Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

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

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ENGLISH AND SCOTTISH BALLADS.        81
foul toads by the enchantment of witches, in at least a pervading shadow of popular belief. But for the most part they were singularly free from the tinc­ture of the marvelous, and mainly the simple chron­icles of stirring events or the tragedies of passion. This gives them an element of strength, which is wanting to the phantasmagorial figures of more imaginative nations, whatever glow of misty glory shines about them as in the creations of the early Celtic bards. The impression of the soul of nature is strong but not overpowering as in these latter, and the influence of the landscape and the sky in storm or calm illuminates but does not interfere with the dramatic action. As has been said, strength of thought and strength of language are their prevailing characteristics. Their strength of language is that which belongs to the speech of a people when it is fresh and new, and before it has been overlaid with words created for literary pur­poses and by the introduction of foreign words to give niceties of meaning, and no cultivated lan­guage has the same power and directness as that which is the simple expression of the thoughts of the people. Goethe, with his sound critical insight, noted this when he said, " The unsophisticated man is the more master of direct, effective expres­sion than he who has had a regular training," and a language may often lose in strength what it gains
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III