Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

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

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38         FOLK-SONGS OF THE CIVIL WAR.
Brown's Body be no more than a set of unmean­ing jingles to future generations, as Lillibullero, which " sung King James out of three kingdoms," is to our own ; but with their death will come a loss of a vital element of the war, as representing its living and human sentiment, and history will miss its function if it exclude them. How vital they were at the time may be seen from the fact that the attempts to supersede the unmeaning rhymes by words of substance and definite poetry had no effect, so far as their popular use was concerned, even when this was done with such magnificent success as in Mrs. Julia Ward Howe's Battle Hymn of the Republic, or General Albert Pike's powerful lines to Dixie. The people and the sol­diers clung to the old choruses, and passed by with cold respect or indifference the deliberate and purely literary appeals to their feelings. There is, perhaps, a reason for this, which may be accounted for under the canons of literary criticism. A song is something different from a poem, and in­cludes a dominant appeal to the ear, which may be even obstructed by elaborate meaning, and the sim­ple and taking air is the essential thing. It is not always the case that a popular or national song is meaningless, as is shown in the Marseillaise and Der Wacht am Rhein; and, in our own war, Mr. James R. Randall's My Maryland was as
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III