Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

An Extensive Investigation Into The Sources And Inspiration Of National Folk Song

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cheap sentimentality of Just before the Battle, Mother, and When this Cruel War is over, do not have something of the indefinable fascination on the printed page which they had to the ears of the men who sung them, and do not take a stronger hold upon the mind than the much more elegant and refined verses by which they are surrounded. Something of this may be due to the memory of those who heard them, and in whose minds they were the voice of the war, as the flags, the arms, and the uniforms were its visible insignia, but this does not entirely account for their fascination and permanence. There was something about them which endowed them with vital life, which gave them a hold upon every tongue and upon every heart, a quality distinct from obvious mean­ing, to say nothing of literary excellence, and which can only be described as the singing ele­ment. It was to accomplish this purpose, to re­lieve the heart through the lungs, without reference to the mind, to emphasize and lighten the buoyant or weary march, and give voice to the pervading impulse, which kept these songs alive and made them a practical part of the war, as the sailor's " shanties" were a part of the life of the sea, and the negro choruses of the life of the planta­tion. This fascination may fade when the civil war becomes a matter of distant history, and John
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III