Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

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

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folk-lore of Brittany is particularly rich in stories and legends of the sea, composed by the fishermen to while away the long hours of the passage to New­foundland or the nightwatches in the misty seas of Iceland; or embodying the mysterious and super­stitious terrors of the fishermen of the coast in the face of storms and foaming reefs; and the impress of supernatural power in the ocean and the storm is very strong upon the imaginations of the Breton people. But the sailors themselves, like the labor­ers in the fields, do not seem to have the inspira­tion and poetical gift to put their thoughts into song. M. Luzel has been able to collect but a comparatively few of genuine sailor songs, and these are mostly tavern choruses or rude and common­place chants, with but very little of the salt of the seas and the voice of the breeze in them. The wo­men sometimes chant at the spinning-wheel songs of warning against the dangers and perils of becom­ing a sailor's wife, of which the following is an ex­ample : —
Maidens young, who wish to wed, Take advice from an old head.
If you marry, as you say, Do not take a sailor gay.
If you take a sailor gay,
You will sorrow night and day.
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