Book of Old English Ballads

Book of Old English Ballads

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Book of Old English Ballads  by George Wharton Edwards

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Book of Old English Ballads

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Book Excerpt

rature has become to us so exclusively the work of a professional class, that we find it difficult to imagine the intellectual and social conditions which fostered improvisation on a great scale, and trained the ear of great populations to the music of spoken poetry. It is almost impossible for us to disassociate literature from writing. There is still, however, a considerable volume of unwritten literature in the world in the form of stories, songs, proverbs, and pithy phrases; a literature handed down in large part from earlier times, but still receiving additions from contemporary men and women.

This unwritten literature is to be found, it is hardly necessary to say, almost exclusively among country people remote from towns, and whose mental attitude and community feeling reproduce, in a way, the conditions under which the English and Scotch ballads were originally composed. The Roumanian peasants sing their songs upon every occasion of domestic or local interest; and sowing and harvesting, birth,

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