Certainly, I must confess my own barbarousness, I never heard the old song of Percy and Douglas that I found not my heart moved more than with a trumpet; and yet it is sung but by some blind crowder, with no rougher voice than rude style; which being so evil apparelled in the dust and cobwebs of that uncivil age, what could it work trimmed in the gorgeous eloquence of Pindar?
— Sir Philip Sidney, A Defence of Poetry (1595)
Sidney was not the last person to hear the ballad The Hunting of the Cheviot performed; Bertrand H. Bronson published several melodies of the ballad which were recorded as late as the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, though none of these late performers was a “blind crowder.” 1. This ballad, of which version A (according to Child's classification) dates from c. 1550 and version B is found in the Percy Folio, stands clearly in a late medieval tradition (shared by other ballads) and is based on a historical event, the battle of Otterburn, which took place between the English and the Scots in 1388. 2. In its narrative technique, this ballad reaches even further into the past. Oskar Sauer, in a dissertation on the sources of The Hunting of the Cheviot, singles out a number of elements that hark back to the Old Germanic heroic lay: arming the heroes, asking for the opponent's name, flyting, lament, and others. 3. This is not to say that the ballad stands in a direct line of descent to Germanic oral poetry, but it exhibits a somewhat archaic style and technique that make it a fitting example of the survival of an older oral world in Sidney's England.____________________