Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

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

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There is a Hungarian proverb which says, " The Magyar amuses himself by weeping." There is an underlying element of melancholy in this proud and high-spirited race, and its susceptibility to sadness is manifest in its folk-poetry as in its remarkable and powerful national music, which has for the fine ear a note of lamentation beneath its fiery tone. This is not singular, for the folk-songs of almost every nation have this pervading element to a greater or less degree, characterized by shades of temperament and national and historical influences, and showing that the minds of primitive peoples were most deeply affected by the woes of life rather than its joys, and the disappointments rather than the successes of passion, which express themselves in poetry. The aspects of nature, par­ticularly the loneliness of vast plains such as exist in Hungary, and the enforced pensiveness of the shepherd life, exercise a powerful influence in giv­ing a melancholy tinge to popular poetry, and in its melody and in its thought it breathes the note of the rain-laden breeze that sighs across the vast
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