Home  »  Volume XVIII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART III  »  § 5. English and Scottish Traditional Ballads

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXVII. Oral Literature

§ 5. English and Scottish Traditional Ballads

Interest in orally preserved verse in the United States has centered hitherto mostly in English and Scottish romantic and legendary narrative pieces, or traditional ballads, emigrants from the Old World. Imported songs of other character and verse stories indigenous to America have had less attention. Here, as in England, the pieces which have been singled out as worthy of recovery and study are chiefly those of the type collected and preserved in Professor Child’s English and Scottish Popular Ballads. They are likely to have the longer history, and, in their Old World form, higher poetical quality; and there is more mystery concerning their origin. Attempts have been made to register the number emigrating to, and surviving in America, to note their geographical distribution, and to watch what has happened to them.