Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

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

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and its occupations in the gloomy, wind-swept, and rain-beaten fields and on the mysterious and terrifying seas, is particularly subject to the in­fluences which make folk-song a part of its life and the natural expression of its thoughts and emotions. Nor is its folk-poetry entirely without value in the strictly historical sense, although any­thing like absolute accuracy or the definite remains of contemporary historic verse are not to be ex­pected. As in the extant folk-lore of other nations, the roots run far back, and evidences of the tradi­tions and customs of former ages survive in a frag­mentary and altered state, in which may be traced the tokens of the existence of the race in the ear­liest dawn of history and even before any known records. Thus, if there are no authentic poems of the time of Merlin and King Arthur in the Breton folk-songs of the present day, their names and tra­ditions survive ; and, if the school culture of the Druids does not survive in the poems of numeral questions on the characters and events of the Bible, as imagined or invented by M. Villemarque, no less fragments of their customs and worship remain in the habits and traditions of the people in and out­side of their religious ritual, and are perpetuated in their folk-songs, if with as little definite know­ledge as of the rites once performed at the feet of the dolmens or in the temple of Karnac. The fai-
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