Mudcat Café message #3958750 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #165063   Message #3958750
Posted By: Richie
27-Oct-18 - 12:37 PM
Thread Name: Origins: James Madison Carpenter- Child Ballads 5
Subject: RE: Origins: James Madison Carpenter- Child Ballads 5
Hi Steve,

I'm looking through the items you emailed me now. What allegories are reasonable? Could the little bush be a young girl, a sister? Perhaps "prickly bush" as a "love entanglement"? Barry's attribution of the young girl/sister to Cecil Sharp has never been documented in Sharp's papers.

One of the issues with Atkinson and some other analyses are that many of the later texts are of questionable authenticity. I know-- without checking-- the US versions from Woofter (Combs Collection 1924), Niles, Gainer (West Virginia 1975) and Smith (Virginia c. 1964) are fraudulent recreations and that considering them in an analysis distorts the findings. Suspect are most of the British versions from the 1950s since it's quite possible that singers who wanted to sing Child 13-- arranged the ballad for their repertoire (from print) and that these arrangements entered tradition. Traditional singers that wanted to add Child 13 could not easily say their version was from print but would need to have a traditional source. This has happened time and again, so it makes it very difficult to establish authenticity. The addition of "killing of birds" as a motive in recent British versions could, for example, have stemmed from a single arrangement. I'm not suggesting that all the British versions from c. 1950 should be discounted but rather that they should all be considered suspicious. Conclusions need to be drawn from versions which are not suspicious.

I consider the English version from the late 1800s (see it posted above) to be traditional and Motherwell's version. Percy's version proves that the ballad was traditional c.1750 but since the text has been changed- it's impossible to say what that version was.

Many of the US versions from Appalachia, however, are legitimate (Sharp EFSSA) and so are the Scandinavian versions.