Monday, 12 December 2016

POPULAR SONGS AND BALLADS

Chaucer's dominance in Middle English literature is unquestionable. His influence is found all pervasive. Yet,there are other poetical works in different forms, not totally ignorable even in that great age iif chaucerian literature. In this respect, mention may be made of popular songs and ballads.

It fact,in the transition of English literature from Middle English to the Renaissance,an interesting literary feature is the emergence of popular songs and particularly ballads.Those songs and ballads are found both in English poetry and in Scottish. They do not ballads are found both in English poetry and in Scottish. They do not belong  exactly to the fifteenth century, and may be traced in the literary history of the earlier period as also of the later.In fact,it is different to assign place or date, with precision and definiteness to them.their authorship has also remained mostly anonymous.
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Moreover,a good many such songs and ballads are also lost altogether. as a result, no full and comprehensive account, which might have been quite rich, about them is at all possible.

These songs and ballads,however, occupy a queer position in English literature. They are mostly old,belong to autiquity,to the tradition of medieval literature. At the same time, some of them are found to approach new literature -the literature of the Renaissance. Chaucer's influence on them is undeniable,though indirect, and like him, they seem to stand at the cross-roads of a literary change from medievalism to modernity. 

Those songs and ballads do not definitely ddeserve any special recognition. What makes them noteworthy is their unique popularity, and here they seem to bear the tradition of medieval romances in their popular tales in verse and simple style. They deal with the themes of heroism, adventure and love and exhibit a remarked rhythmic balance and a pleasing metrical harmony so as to touch and catch common hearts.

Because of their common characteristics it is difficult to identity these songs and ballads separately. They seem to belong to the same genre in their subject -matter and style,and may better be styled simply as ballad poetry.

The ballad is a light simple song that narrates certain events or incidents in simple modes and harmonious and sonorous verses.It is more or less a kind of narrative poetry, and contains a short story in verse. It presents generally a tale of romance and the rhythmic and melodious verses that have the instinctive appeal of a song. Simplicity in theme as well as technique is the primary requisite of ballad poetry. Moreover,a good ballad, as the from of popular poetry, possesses an enchantment of melody. This haa aa wonderful metrical beauty that has a haunting effect on the ear that hears and thereby spells the heart of the hearer.

The earliest known ballad is the Canute Song.This is,of course, fragmentary, yet it has much historical and literary value. The kings actual part in it is quite doubtful and perhaps. not vert important. In fact, popular ballads are found abundant in the literary age,following Chaucer,and particularly iin the beginning of fifteenth century. A remarkably fertile soil for such ballads appears to be the 'Border',the scene of so many bloody encountered between the English and the Scots for long years. In this context, two particularly well known,popular ballads may be mentioned here.

Chevy Chase

One of the outstanding popular ballads on 'border'matter is Chevy Chase.This presents an engaging account of the conflict between percy of Northumberland aand Douglas of Scotland.The former wishes to hunt in the territory of his foe in order to defy him and provoke encounter.The poem describes the fierce fighting between provoke encounter. The poem describes the rival parties.Douglas is slain and Percy is shown to lament for the death of his valiant enemy. Gallantry gives way to chivalrous nobility. 

Chevy Chase stands out as aa classic example of the epical ballad that is found inspired with the ideals of The Battle of Maldon aand The sing at Brunanburh. It contains matters, both fierce and chivalrous.It has the grandeur of the fragmentary epic in its details of warfare and note of chivalry.

The Nut Brown Maid

Another popular and successful poem of the time is The Nut Brown Maid.This is not strictly a ballad of the Border and differs much from Chevy Chase.The theme here is aaltogether different -not rivalry but love.It is all about the story of a nut-brown maid,a barons daughter,and her devoted love for a squire.She follows.with utmost constancy.her beloved man who tries to avoid her.Ultimately, the steady maid gets her reward and the squire, who is actually a noble lord in disguise, agrees to marry her.The end is happy,unlike the sad ending of Chevy Chase.