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A Book of Old Ballads   By: (1899-1983)

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First Page:

A BOOK OF OLD BALLADS

Selected and with an Introduction

by

BEVERLEY NICHOLS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The thanks and acknowledgments of the publishers are due to the following: to Messrs. B. Feldman & Co., 125 Shaftesbury Avenue, W.C. 2, for "It's a Long Way to Tipperary"; to Mr. Rudyard Kipling and Messrs. Methuen & Co. for "Mandalay" from Barrack Room Ballads ; and to the Executors of the late Oscar Wilde for "The Ballad of Reading Gaol."

"The Earl of Mar's Daughter", "The Wife of Usher's Well", "The Three Ravens", "Thomas the Rhymer", "Clerk Colvill", "Young Beichen", "May Collin", and "Hynd Horn" have been reprinted from English and Scottish Ballads , edited by Mr. G. L. Kittredge and the late Mr. F. J. Child, and published by the Houghton Mifflin Company.

The remainder of the ballads in this book, with the exception of "John Brown's Body", are from Percy's Reliques , Volumes I and II.

CONTENTS

FOREWORD MANDALAY THE FROLICKSOME DUKE THE KNIGHT AND SHEPHERD'S DAUGHTER KING ESTMERE KING JOHN AND THE ABBOT OF CANTERBURY BARBARA ALLEN'S CRUELTY FAIR ROSAMOND ROBIN HOOD AND GUY OF GISBORNE THE BOY AND THE MANTLE THE HEIR OF LINNE KING COPHETUA AND THE BEGGAR MAID SIR ANDREW BARTON MAY COLLIN THE BLIND BEGGAR'S DAUGHTER OF BEDNALL GREEN THOMAS THE RHYMER YOUNG BEICHAN BRAVE LORD WILLOUGHBEY THE SPANISH LADY'S LOVE THE FRIAR OF ORDERS GRAY CLERK COLVILL SIR ALDINGAR EDOM O' GORDON CHEVY CHACE SIR LANCELOT DU LAKE GIL MORRICE THE CHILD OF ELLE CHILD WATERS KING EDWARD IV AND THE TANNER OF TAMWORTH SIR PATRICK SPENS THE EARL OF MAR'S DAUGHTER EDWARD, EDWARD KING LEIR AND HIS THREE DAUGHTERS HYND HORN JOHN BROWN'S BODY TIPPERARY THE BAILIFF'S DAUGHTER OF ISLINGTON THE THREE RAVENS THE GABERLUNZIE MAN THE WIFE OF USHER'S WELL THE LYE THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL

The source of these ballads will be found in the Appendix at the end of this book.

LIST OF COLOUR PLATES

HYND HORN KING ESTMERE BARBARA ALLEN'S CRUELTY FAIR ROSAMOND THE BOY AND THE MANTLE KING COPHETUA AND THE BEGGAR MAID MAY COLLIN THOMAS THE RHYMER YOUNG BEICHAN CLERK COLVILL GIL MORRICE CHILD WATERS THE EARL OF MAR'S DAUGHTER THE BAILIFF'S DAUGHTER OF ISLINGTON THE THREE RAVENS THE WIFE OF USHER'S WELL

FOREWORD

By

Beverley Nichols

These poems are the very essence of the British spirit. They are, to literature, what the bloom of the heather is to the Scot, and the smell of the sea to the Englishman. All that is beautiful in the old word "patriotism" ... a word which, of late, has been twisted to such ignoble purposes ... is latent in these gay and full blooded measures.

But it is not only for these reasons that they are so valuable to the modern spirit. It is rather for their tonic qualities that they should be prescribed in 1934. The post war vintage of poetry is the thinnest and the most watery that England has ever produced. But here, in these ballads, are great draughts of poetry which have lost none of their sparkle and none of their bouquet.

It is worth while asking ourselves why this should be why these poems should "keep", apparently for ever, when the average modern poem turns sour overnight. And though all generalizations are dangerous I believe there is one which explains our problem, a very simple one.... namely, that the eyes of the old ballad singers were turned outwards, while the eyes of the modern lyric writer are turned inwards.

The authors of the old ballads wrote when the world was young, and infinitely exciting, when nobody knew what mystery might not lie on the other side of the hill, when the moon was a golden lamp, lit by a personal God, when giants and monsters stalked, without the slightest doubt, in the valleys over the river. In such a world, what could a man do but stare about him, with bright eyes, searching the horizon, while his heart beat fast in the rhythm of a song?

But now the mysteries have gone... Continue reading book >>




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