Mudcat Café message #3958916 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #165063   Message #3958916
Posted By: Lighter
28-Oct-18 - 12:22 PM
Thread Name: Origins: James Madison Carpenter- Child Ballads 5
Subject: RE: Origins: James Madison Carpenter- Child Ballads 5
To state the obvious, Brune's melody is most likely the result of some reader's attempt to turn the impressive poem "back" into a song.

That reader may have been Brune himself, or his source.

When I was about fourteen years old, I did the same the thing, though I never sang my creation for anybody else.

Fortunately I can no longer remember the tune.

I believe that the incest interpretation of the "classic" version arose among academics - roughly between 1920 and 1940 - because interpreting the song that way seemed to provide support from "the folk" (presumably from at least as far back as the Middle Ages, according to the academic assumptions of the time) ) for Freud's   newly popular theory of the "Oedipus complex." The interpretation is not impossible, though hardly self-evident.

Incest or not, the mother has presumably encouraged the son indirectly (and perhaps repeatedly) to kill his father for being some kind of villain. But she didn't expect him to do it - certainly not now. Her questions might equally be the result of concern and curiosity
- or of a perverse hope.