Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/176

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i6o N'otes OH Ballad Origins.

fined to the saga about the Feinn. " Besides the ballads" of the Feinn, " there are numerous traditional ballads and other scraps of poetry similar to them in character, which treat of giants, enchantments, and supernatural deeds, some of which treat of fairies and fairy lovers ; some of the loves of men and women " (p. 171). These things are the staple of our romantic ballads. Mr. Nutt denies that Celts have ballads, but a non-Celtic student may be allowed to rely on Islay, who, by-the-bye, gives examples of peasant collabora- tion in verse-making (p. 179).

Let me add that Professor Gummere goes, as I understand him, beyond me as to the " communal " origin of ballads. Mr. Henderson (p. xxiv.) misquotes Professor Gummere thus : " he is unable to assert communal authorship, in any literal sense, for the ballad of the collections " (p. 185) . Professor Gummere, with Mr. Henderson's pardon, does not say that. He writes (pp. 184-185) : " Once more be it said that the present object is not to assert communal authorship, in any literal sense, tor the ballad of the collections, but to show in it elements which cannot be referred to individual art, and which are of great use in determining the probable form and origins of primitive poetry. True., one might go further ; there are strong statements made by scholars of great repute, which defi- nitely deny individual authorship, in any modern sense, for the ballads " — citing Biickel, Nigra, and Gaston Paris.

How erroneous is Mr. Henderson's quotation everyone can see. Islay says (iv., 127-128), "a ballad that bears the

stamp of originality, and the traces of many minds A

popular tale is the oldest form. A popular ballad which can easily be sung and remembered is the next growth."

A ballad " is not something definite, like a printed song by a known author, but something which is continually undergoing change" (p. 125).

Islay's view is my view. M. Gaston Paris writes that early popular poetry is " improvised and extemporaneous