Minstrelsy of Maine: Folk-Songs and Ballads of the Woods and the Coast

Minstrelsy of Maine: Folk-Songs and Ballads of the Woods and the Coast

Minstrelsy of Maine: Folk-Songs and Ballads of the Woods and the Coast

Minstrelsy of Maine: Folk-Songs and Ballads of the Woods and the Coast

Excerpt

The editors of this volume fully realized that collecting these songs was a man's job. We knew very well that we could not go into lumber camps and the forecastles of coasting schooners, nor frequent mill boarding-houses and wharves and employment offices and even jails, where the unprinted, and too often unprintable, songs of the kind we must seek originate and flourish. Had a man competent to perform the task expressed an intention of preserving these songs, we should not have undertaken the work. But no man appeared steeped in balladry and versed in folk-music, understanding the hearts of the people and wise to interpret what he found in them. The old songs were fast vanishing. With them would be lost all they represented of the mental horizon of the pioneer, the cultus of the logger and river-driver, the hunter and trapper, the sailor and hand-line fisherman. The next generation, which can know nothing of these men except through the printed page, might have the traditions of their physical performance, but it must lack any authentic record of what they thought and felt and talked about.

So we volunteered for a service for which we professed no special fitness, and soon we found that it was far from being a forlorn hope. Every one was willing to help us; and many, both men and women, sometimes old friends but oftener entire strangers, gave freely and often lavishly of their time and energy, rendering a service for which thanks are an inadequate return.

The songs thus gathered were so diverse in character and so far exceeded the limits of a single volume that we were constrained to make a selection, and we chose for this book those which show the Maine man, particularly . . .

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