Mudcat Café message #3958783 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #165063   Message #3958783
Posted By: Steve Gardham
27-Oct-18 - 03:27 PM
Thread Name: Origins: James Madison Carpenter- Child Ballads 5
Subject: RE: Origins: James Madison Carpenter- Child Ballads 5
I fully agree with you about being very careful with putting too much weight on British versions post 1950. Brune's version should be immediately discounted for instance.

Allegories can only be purely conjectural in this case. At its simplest level he could be just saying they argued over something else trivial, or it could be the dead brother killed another young person who was close to David/the son. There is no reason why it should have to be a sister or even a relative.

The piece is more than likely a translation of something which in itself was fragmentary and it's so old that any real motive could easily become altered or misread/misheard over time.

I have Larry Syndegaard's 'English Translations of the Scandinavian Medieval Ballads' which is basically a series of tables listing the translations and where they can be found. Swedish entries for National no 153 (TSB no. D320) there are 3. I'm not quite sure how it works but the references are to Howitt (1852) Child's English and Scottish Ballads, M. Walker in Marzo (1928) and Taube (1954). these sources are in the Biblio. The publisher is The Nordic Institute of Folklore, Turku, 1995.

Looking at Motherwell and Laing there is a strong clue in the second lines of the stanza. 'That would never (hae) been a tree' and 'A penny would ha bought the tree'. Surely this is simply stating that their argument was over something extremely trivial.