Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

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

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exceed the limits of any art, when the voice touches a note of magic melody, which they can reach by no conscious effort even in the highest moments of inspiration, and which seems to come from some power not at their conscious command. It seems to be the same in lyric poetry, and when the power does come, then we have the touch which makes it song, as the thrill of the lark, and the ecstasy of the mocking-bird in the tropic night, are songs. The magic may not be prolonged through an entire lyric. It seldom is. It may be only in a single line or in a single verse. It may not be even the highest strain of feeling or nobility of sentiĀ­ment, and may even carry with it little definite meaning upon analysis. It derives its power from the magic melody as much as from the feeling or the intelligible sense of the words, and its effect is indefinable by any law of the understanding. In its highest estate it combines the most penetrating feeling with not only perfect but magic melody, but it sometimes comes in a wild refrain, in which the meaning merely floats in the words, and the rhythm, the accent, the song itself, so to speak, is predominant. For the first instance there is the perfect example of Burns, the rapture caught once for a single strain in a song, which does not rise above the level of his accomplished skill otherwise, and which has the keenest and most penetrating
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