Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Great Regulars: Ballads are notoriously difficult to date.

Some sources suggest c.1400; others say that there is no evidence that "The Unquiet Grave" existed in written form before 1800. In fact, not many of [Francis James] Child's ballads date from before 1600. In some versions, it's the young man who has died: like a medieval knight, he lies "slain" in the "greenwood". 78D has a literary diction at times, a hint of Scots dialect, and a nautical setting. The quality of 78A could reflect the later crafting and processing of some rougher, older material. But there are many versions in addition to Child's and you may have a favourite of your own.

The Unquiet Grave

from Carol Rumens: The Guardian: Poem of the week: Poem of the week: The Unquiet Grave


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