A Treasury of Southern Folklore: Stories, Ballads, Traditions, and Folkways of the People of the South

Excerpt

Even on the printed page Southern folklore and Southern folk-say succeed in catching the color, flavor, and excitement of a culture in the making and in communicating something of the same glow of discovery that the first settlers felt on going into a new country. Indeed, part of the eternally fresh appeal and true meaning of folklore in the South derives from its backwoods heritage--the pioneer saga of planting colonies, fields, and cities and creating names, legends, and ballads in that wild and wonderful country that the first Englishmen found in Virginia, the first Virginians in Kentucky, and the first Kentuckians and Virginians in Texas. Somewhere between a Lost Paradise and a paradise regained, the South of folklore is still an eden-land of the imagination, where Old Adam and Miss Eve play the "shout" game of "pickin' up" and "pinnin' up leave'" and the Lord and the Devil walk the earth like, natural men, the former bearing a close resemblance to Old Massa and the latter to Brer Fox.

Never were land and lore more perfectly suited and wedded to each other. For in the South folklore is truly a way of life, and the way of life naturally breeds lore. The rural South is a land of the out-of- doors come up to the door and even indoors, where the "gallery," the store-porch, the kitchen, the parlor, and the nursery are made for story- telling and for ballad-singing; where the climate and the open sky make a man expansive and enduring of lung and tongue when it is his "night to howl" or when he is haranguing his "friends and feller-citizens" or "sistern and brethren."

In the story-telling belt of the South barnyard fowl and animals not only come up to the door but enter into the stories themselves, to talk and jest, while in the fields and forests, the hollers and ridges, are the heroes of yarns and tales as tall as the timber--the mighty Nimrods and "gamecocks" of the wilderness and their animal friends and prey: the self-sufficient razorback, the Paul Bunyanesque mountain or piney-woods rooter, the rabbit, the possum, the raccoon, the fox, and the bear.

This is the land of the sky, where fantasy and dread follow the winding creek trails and penetrate the hidden ways of mountain fastnesses. It is . . .

Additional information

Contributors:
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1949

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