Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

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

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popular in the Southern army as a song as it is vigorous and spirited as a piece of pure literature. But as a whole, songs which have been sung by large bodies of men, under stress of high excite­ment, have depended more upon their sound than their meaning for their vogue, and this would doubtless apply to the chants of the Crusaders as to the choruses of the Northern and Southern soldiers during the civil war. God save the King does not compare with Ye Mariners of England in any element of poetry, yet the one is always sung and the latter never; and Marching through Georgia depends upon its air rather than its com­monplace words for its hold upon the martial heart. There was some good poetry written dur­ing the late civil war, although not much; and in the collections, as I have said, it is doubtful if the respectable verses, in which the incidents and feelings of the war were expressed with deliberate art, have the vitality, as they have not now the effect, of the rude rhymes and commonplace sen­timentality of those songs which took hold of the hearts of the people, and were the living voices of the war. Too often they had the contortions of patriotism without its inspiration, and were forci­ble-feeble in appeal, or, when they attempted to interpret the spirit of battle, rang false to the real feeling and knowledge of the soldier. To
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III