Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

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

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Latin learning and mediaeval thought, is also a • great injury to the consecutiveness and vraisem-blance of the story, and the effect is as if the tale of the Nibelungen Lied had been told by a monk­ish chronicler with all the embellishments of a later faith and the ornaments of an artificial style. The poetry has not all perished from the earlier ori­ginals, and in many instances there is a vigor of narrative, a poetical power of description, and an elevation of sentiment, which shines through the amplification and verbiage, and redeems the prolix­ity and tediousness of the story; but, as has been said, the prevailing impression is one of a corrupted and weakened, instead of a strong and original primitive poetry, and a literal translation of an Irish or Scotch Celtic poem or history is not likely to attract the general reader from its purely liter­ary quality. The poetry lies in a heap of dross, and must be painfully smelted out.
The only way in which ancient Celtic poetry can be known and appreciated by the English reader, and have its effect in English literature, is by the presentation of its spirit and atmosphere, its essen­tial elements in local form and color, its character­istic phraseology and tone of thought in English poetry of original power as well as essential faith­fulness. The poet who is to do this successfully must have, what Macpherson had not, a thorough
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