Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

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

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76 ENGLISH AND SCOTTISH BALLADS.
flavor of expression which gives the ancient bal­lads such a hold upon the mind. The modern ballads are admired by the intellect rather than felt by the heart, and are recognized as the product of skillful art rather than as the expression of original emotion. Even Scott, whose literary gen­ius was so saturated with their spirit, and Words­worth, who sought his inspiration in the simple emotions of the peasant heart and interpreted them so perfectly in a literary form of glowing simpli­city, could not produce a popular ballad, and even Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, with all its powerful and naked mystery and natural archaism of thought and language, appeals to the literary rather than to the popular imagination. All the more absolute imitations of ancient literature, like those of Ros-setti and Morris, have still more the air of unreality, in spite of what is oftentimes their very great power and skill, and Sir Samuel Ferguson's Lays of the Western Gael, perfect as they are in the repro­duction of the Celtic spirit and expression, are for the admiration of scholars rather than the feeling of the people. It is hardly too much to say that in modern English literature there are but two poems which fulfill the conditions of the ancient ballads in their simplicity, directness, and originality of language, their power upon the mind and heart through the ear, and the indefinable flavor of prim-
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III