Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

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

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grime of London, and has no acquaintance with the sturdy Scotch lassies with whom he is supposed to play tricks. The native fairies with which Hogg peopled the raths and mounds of Ettrick do not appear in Thorn's verses. When he wrote of what must have appealed most strongly to his heart and knowledge, the wrongs and sufferings of his fellow operatives, he was, as has been said, greatly influ­enced by the perfervid and declamatory style of Ebenezer Elliot, and weakened the force of his descriptions by exaggeration and savage invective. His songs were for the most part in the vein of the current Scottish lyric poetry, and, although not without grace and felicity of expression, rarely above the limits of conventionality and imitation. The song by which he is most widely known, and which appears in all the collections of Scottish poetry, The Mitherless Bairn, owes its vogue to its simple pathos, appealing to the popular emotions rather than to its quality as poetry. There are forcible and felicitous lines scattered through Thorn's poetry, in which the language and melody combine to render the thought or sentiment with original power, and touches of description which show the sensitive eye illumined by the feeling heart, as this of the winter-beaten birds: —
Like beildless birdies, when they ca' Frae wet, wee wing the batted snaw, —
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