« AnteriorContinuar »
· Sportsman's Vocal Cabinet"
Shall I, wasting in Despair?
Suffolk Yeoman's Song (The)
G. A. Stevens
CONSIDERABLE amount of error and misconception exists
upon the subject of Poetry in general—and of song writing in particular. Poetry itself, which M. de Lamartine asserts to be " the guardian angel of humanity in every age,” is considered by many, not otherwise unintelligent people, to be identical with verse—an idle art unworthy of an age of practical usefulness ; while song writing is held to be the most frivolous department of a frivolous pursuit. Even
many of a more correct and better educated taste scarcely know the difference between a song and any other short poem. The multitude who sing feel what a song is— but the smaller class who reason and refine are as yet scarcely agreed upon the meaning of the term song-unless the vague definition that it is “ something which may be sung" can be considered as satis
" factory. The worth of a song in the estimation of such critics as these, is as little as can be imagined; and it has become a proverb, when a thing has been purchased at a price ridiculously low, to say that it has been bought " for a song." On the other hand, there are people who somewhat over-rate the value and importance of songs, and who repeat the phrase made popular by Fletcher of Saltoun, that the song-writer has more influence upon the minds of the people than the law-maker. Both of these estimates are wrong.
is neither so small nor so great a matter as is represented. The many beautiful compositions in the English language, that may strictly be called songs, and which we owe to the genius of some of our most illustrious writers, from the age of Shakspeare to our own, are sufficient proofs that the depreciation of those who deny all value to this form of poetry is unjust and unfounded, while the absence of any great number of songs, popular enough to model the life—to sway the passions—and to stir the patriotism of the English multitude, proves that, as regards our nation at least, Fletcher of Saltoun, and those who repeat his opinion, have to a considerable extent over-rated their influence. Yet who knows how much of loyalty might have remained unexcited if the music of the National Anthem had not been so magnificent, and if the air of “Rule Britannia” had not been so inspiriting? The song writer-without the musicianis, in fact, but a writer of short poems—and “immortal verse must be married to “immortal music" before it can exercise its full influence upon the minds of a people. A song
and ballad have points of resemblance and of difference. A ballad, which at present seems to signify a song wherein a story is told, originally meant a short, or even a long poem, modulated in the recital to serve as a musical accompaniment to a dance-from ballare, to dance. A song, strictly, should express a sentiment only; but the distinction has been often disregarded by our best writers, and some of the most beautiful compositions of this class in the English language partake largely of the characteristics of both. But a song is a more difficult and excellent composition than a ballad. A song should be like an epigram—complete and entire—a perfect chrysolite ;— brilliant on every side. It should give voice to one pervading idea, which should be illustrated naturally and elegantly. It should contain