Songs and Ballads of the Maine Lumberjacks: With other Songs from Maine

Songs and Ballads of the Maine Lumberjacks: With other Songs from Maine

Songs and Ballads of the Maine Lumberjacks: With other Songs from Maine

Songs and Ballads of the Maine Lumberjacks: With other Songs from Maine

Excerpt

Folk-songs and popular ballads are great human documents. They narrate, in unpremeditated art and verse, the experience of an individual or group, and are usually addressed and sung to this group. In "The Jam at Gerry's Rock," for instance, is related an event which actually happened during a lumber operation on the Penobscot River in Maine. The logs in the river had jammed, and "six brave shanty boys" and their foreman, young Monroe, volunteered to break the jam. This was perilous work, in which the men lost their lives. Only the mangled body of young Monroe was recovered. His lover, Clara Vernon, died of grief, and her last request, to be buried by young Monroe, was granted. The ballad opens with the direct appeal:

Come all you brave shanty boys, and list while I relate
Concerning a young shanty boy and his untimely fate.

The motif that gave birth to this ballad was love's tragedy. This is one of the most frequently occurring motifs. In this collection of ballads it is present in "Fair Charlotte," "The Jacket So Blue," "Far, Far at Sea," "In Blithe and Bonnie Fair Scotland," and "The Prentice Boy's Love for Mary." Other motifs in the lumberjacks' songs are the joy of their work, as in "The Logger's Boast"; and the tragedy of their work, as in "The West Branch Song." Then the heroic, as in "The Sandy Stream Song" and the war ballads; jealousy, as in "The Twa Sisters"; confession of sorrow for a life misspent . . .

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