Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

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

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30                   AMERICAN SEA SONGS.
the ruggedness of some of its rhymes, and the vig­orous compulsion of the rules of grammar and syntax, when necessary, although the author was evidently of higher education than would belong to one in his position, and its jigging measure be­comes tiresome; but it is of very great spirit and vigor, as well as fidelity to its theme, and by no means deserves to have fallen so entirely into oblivion. Indeed, it seems to me to be quite as good as, and a great deal more original than, any American poetry which had appeared up to that time. The song has for its subject the chase and capture of a whale in the North Pacific, and re­lates the course of events from the time of the first sighting of " white water "on the horizon by the lookouts to that when the monster, stabbed to death by the keen lances, rolls "fins out" in the bloody water, amid the hurrahs of the excited boats' crews. All the details of this grande chasse are given with wonderful vigor, as well as faithful­ness, and the historian of the whale fishery will find it as accurate as a log-book. Perhaps the ac­count of the chase by the boats and the harpooning will give as good an idea of the force and spirit of the poem as any part of it; and, in reference to the emphasis of the language, it may be remembered that mates of whaling ships in pursuit of an eight-hundred-barrel whale had a good deal of energy
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