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Middle English Ballads
Transcript of Middle English Ballads
Virtually every ballad includes certain predictable features, or conventions, including sensational or tragic subject matter, omitted details, supernatural events, and a refrain - a repeated word, line, or group of lines. The word ballad is derived from an Old French word meaning "dancing song."
Although Enlgish ballads' connection with dance has been lost, it is clear from the meter and their structure that the original ballads were composed to be sung to music.
The ballads as we know them today probably took their form in the fifteenth century, but were not printed until Sir Thomas Percy published a number of them in 1765.
Inspired by Percy, Sir Walter Scott and others traveled around the British Isles and collected the songs from the people who still sang them. Get Up and Bar the Door Page: 132 Scarborough Fair Edward, Edward Like Lord Randall, it is a dialogue between a mother and son.
The mother questions why there is blood on her sons sword
He claims it is the blood of his hawk, his horse, and his dog
He finally admits it is the blood of his father
He exiles himself leaving his family to fend for themselves
As he leaves, he curses his mother for putting him up to the dirty deed
Believed to have been adapted from a Scottish ballad
Has been changed so that little remains of the original version
AKA The Elfin Knight
Could be the inspiration for the poem Simple Simon
Made popular by Simon and Garfunkel in the 1960s