Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

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

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Of collections and criticisms of the songs and poetry of the civil war in this country there is no lack. Newspaper files and popular song-books have been ransacked, as well as more pretentious volumes, and whatever possessed a modicum of what is termed " poetic merit " has been gathered with pious care. The standard in most cases has, naturally enough, been that of " polite literature," that of which the writers were persons of education, and who endeavored to express with more or less force a dominant sentiment in logical as well as grammatical form, and to embody their meaning in intelligent words. If popular songs, which did not fulfil these conditions, have been included, it has usually been with an apology for their uncouthness, or a contemptuous reference to their banality, and an intimation that they were forced into the pages of the collection, or upon the attention of the critic, because they could not be ignored in any representative collection of the poetry of the war. Nevertheless, it may be doubted if these uncouth rhymes, without sense or consecutive meaning, like Dixie's Land and John Brown's Body, or the
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