Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

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

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The publication in 1859 of Count Hersart de Villemarque's Barzaz Breiz, or collection of an­cient Breton ballads and folk-songs, excited almost as much interest in the literary world as Bishop Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry a century earlier, if not reaching to the point of that evoked by Macpherson's Ossian. The interest was historical and ethnological as well as literary. Here were historical ballads, full of fire and pas­sion and pathos, dealing not alone with such com­paratively recent and recognized historic figures as Bernard du Guesclin and Jean de Montfort, but dating back to the sixth century and earlier, hav­ing for definite characters Merlin and King Arthur, and containing distinct traces of Druidic and bardic influence, which had been preserved, not in manu­script, as were the remains of Celtic poetry in Wales and Ireland, but by oral tradition and as a part of the still living folk-poetry of the people. It was no wonder that great interest was excited by the apparent evidence that a people living in the midst of European civilization had preserved an
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