Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

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

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134                     CELTIC POETRY.
remained, and discouraged the study which might otherwise have been given to them, so that, unques­tionably, some traditional Celtic poetry has been lost by the decay of the language as a living speech, and it is only in later years that enlightened schol­arship and patriotic feeling have led to the careful and appreciative study of the manuscript volumes which have survived time and neglect, for their in­herent literary and historical value, and to a con­sideration of the influence of the Celtic spirit upon English literature. They have been found to be of great value and interest, to possess elements of pure poetry of marked and original quality, and a spirit which has had a strong effect upon English literature. Nevertheless there has not been found in the remains of Celtic literature any single poem which in itself would compare with the Nibelungen Lied or with the Song of Roland, in epic form and constructiveness, in clearness of diction and drama­tic strength; nor even any prose legend or narra­tive history, which would compare with the clear and vigorous character drawing and lucid narration of the Icelandic and Scandinavian Sagas. What would have been the case had the original poems and histories of the sixth century been preserved can only be conjectured. Those which now exist are only in the transcripts of the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, greatly transformed, ak
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