Book of Old Ballads

Book of Old Ballads
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Book of Old Ballads
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Edited by Beverly Nichols.

Book Excerpt

people could, deliberately, make a single picture, one man doing the nose, one man an eye and so on. Such a suggestion is grotesque, and Grimm never meant it. If I might guess at what he meant, I would suggest that he was thinking that the origin of ballads must have been similar to the origin of the dance, (which was probably the earliest form of aesthetic expression known to man).

The dance was invented because it provided a means of prolonging ecstasy by art. It may have been an ecstasy of sex or an ecstasy of victory ... that doesn't matter. The point is that it gave to a group of people an ordered means of expressing their delight instead of just leaping about and making loud cries, like the animals. And you may be sure that as the primitive dance began, there was always some member of the tribe a little more agile than the rest--some man who kicked a little higher or wriggled his body in an amusing way. And the rest of them copied him, and incorporated his step into their own.

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