Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

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

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THE FOLK-SONGS OF POITOU.            221
guage, and the same habits and customs. This is due in a great measure to a difference in their sur­roundings, and the influence of external nature, whether gay or morose, fertile or barren, upon the minds and characters of the people. Thus in his splendid collection of the Chants and Chansons Populaires des Provinces de FOuest, M. Jerome Burgeaud tells us that the plaintive and melancholy airs of the inhabitants of the deep woods and heavy marshes of La Vendee become gay and cheerful in Poitou, and sparkle with brilliant mirth in Sain-tonge and the Angumois, without changing their notes or form, simply from the difference in the scenery and its influence upon the spirits of the people. The ancient Poitou, comprising the upper portion of the region between the Loire and Ga­ronne, is full of smiling and rich fields, where the grapes burgeon in deep black clusters, and the yellow wheat-ears hang heavy and full, and the warm sun and the savory air fill the blood of the people with lightness and gayety. They are not so ebullient and joyous, it may be, as the inhabitants of the still warmer and more smiling regions of Gascony and Languedoc, but the contrast is very marked between them and their northern neighbors, whose very mirth has a melancholy tinge, and in whom even drunkenness is a protest against sorrow rather than the natural extravagance of light-heartedness.
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