Mudcat Café message #3940947 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3940947
Posted By: GUEST,Pseudonymous
01-Aug-18 - 09:21 PM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England

Thanks for mentioning this article.

I was trying to base my comments on Child's views on the Cyclopaedia you mention. I had read somewhere it was the nearest thing he wrote to a 'statement' and found it via a journal that reproduced it. This was The Journal of Folksong Research, a double issue dated 1994.

I may not have summarised the findings quite fairly in the bit quoted by Steve at 4.05 pm, but it isn't far off.

This article does seem to go against the date of emergence of the modern ballad form if this is dated to 1500 and later. But he counts some very early narratives as ballads of a sort. Child thinks that some Robin Hood ballads come from the 13th century. He thinks that the story of Hereward the Wake, which we have in Latin, probably came from ballads. But he says there are very few old English ballads.

It is quite an ambitious piece, covering a range of countries.

In the opening section, Child says that the 'popular ballad' (ie the sort he liked) predates "the poetry of art" towards which it was a step. He specifically states that it was not the work of lower orders because he imagines that it comes from some sort of unified society.

"The primitive ballad, then, is popular, not in the sense of something arising from and suited to the lower orders of a people...An increased civilisation, and especially the introduction of book culture, gradually gives rise to such a distinction (between higher and lower orders, in terms of knowledge, desires etc, my explanation here) the poetry of art appears, the popular poetry is no longer relished by a portion of the people, and it is abandoned to an uncultivated - or not overcultivated - class ... "

He repeats this idea of a united, almost 'classless' society later in the article. He then describes ways in which what we now have is altered from the original ballads, including 'willful' change, which he thinks is less likely to come from the uneducated, 'professional singers', and 'the modern editor'. He says that in all cases there will be drifts in language.

As I think I said before, he contradicts himself by saying that most of the best ballads were created by the people depicted in them, the higher orders.