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BALLADS AND ROMANCES

The songs to savage virtue dear
That won of yore the public ear,
Ere Polity, sedate and sage,
Had quench'd the fires of feudal rage.

WARTON,

These venerable ancient Song-Enditers
Soar'd many a pitch above our modern writers :
With rough majestic force they moved the heart,
And Strength and Nature made amends for Art.

ROWE,

Yet fragments of the lofty strain

Float down the tide of years,
As buoyant on the stormy main
A parted wreck appears.

Introduction to Jamieson's

Northern Antiquities.

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INTRODUCTION.

The history of balladry, if it could be accurately traced, would supply a missing chapter in the history of English Verse. But it cannot be so traced, for its origin was vocal and not literary, and when it became literary it had ceased to be balladry. To tell us that the word ballad is derived from the Old French baller, to dance, and that it meant a song sung to the rhythmic movement of a dancing chorus, is merely to define its etymology, and indicate a particular form of Old French Verse which the young poets of to-day are trying to revive in England. When we speak of balladry we have in mind such compositions as Sir Patrick Spens and Chevy Chace, the inspiration of which, whatever it may have been, was not the inspiration required for the composition of dancing songs. It was of simpler and older parentage, going back to that unknown period of antiquity when man discovered in himself the strange gift of metrical expression, and devoted it to the service of the gods which he worshipped, and the memory of great men who lived before him. The first poetic births of the primitive races were hymns and ballads : children of their hymns were the Bibles of

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