Week 12: England

Please choose carefully! If you can't decide for yourself, let the Fates decide... Then, when you have made your choice, you can start the Week's Assignments.

Joseph Jacobs was an avid collector of folk tales and fairy tales that were told in England, and the selections from his English Fairy Tales include many stories that you are probably familiar with, such as "The Three Little Pigs" and "Jack and the Beanstalk". You will also find some new versions of old stories, like "The Three Bears" - but without Goldilocks! In addition, Jacobs includes some hero quest tales, such as the "Laidly Worm of Spindleston Heugh" or "Childe Rowland" which are related to some very old English storytelling traditions, going back to some of the early legends associated with the court of King Arthur. Here are some quotes:

'My wicked mother slew me,
My dear father ate me,
My little brother whom I love
Sits below, and I sing above
Stick, stock, stone dead.'

'Well, my son,' said the Warlock Merlin, 'there are but two things, simple they may seem, but hard they are to, do. One thing to do, and one thing not to do. And the thing to do is this: after you have entered the land of Fairy, whoever speaks to you, till you meet the Burd Ellen, you must out with your father's brand and off with their head. And what you've not to do is this: bite no bit, and drink no drop, however hungry or thirsty you be!"

I weird ye to be a Laidly Worm,
And borrowed shall ye never be,
Until Childe Wynd, the King's own son
Come to the Heugh and thrice kiss thee;
Until the world comes to an end,
Borrowed shall ye never be.

Francis Child's Ballads is a collection of traditional English and Scottish ballads. Needless to say, a lot of people in America originally came from England and Scotland! So when Max Hunter started collecting folksongs in the Ozarks during the 1950's and 1960's he found many traditional songs that were also collected by Francis Child back in England. These ballads are usually about love gone wrong, domestic violence and all kinds of tragic occurrences - along with some comic songs as well. There are audio recordings of each of the songs this week, so you will be able to listen to the recordings that Max Hunter made of just plain folks singing these traditional songs. Here are some quotes:

Tell her, to make me a cambric shirt
Rosemary and thyme
Without a seam or needles work
She shall be a true lover of mine

Hangman, hangman, slack your rope
Slack it full an' free
For I think I see my Father coming
Away over yonder
Father, O Father, have you brought me gold
Or have you paid my fee
Or have you come to see me hanged
On this green willow tree
Son, O Son, I've not brought you gold
Nor have I paid your fee
But I have come to see you hanged
On this green willow tree

Th ole Devil got 'er up on his back
Looked like a peddler with a hump on his back
Singin' hi-diddle-i-diddle-i-fi
Ole Devil got out t' th forks of th road
He said, ole lady you're a hell of a load
Singin' hi-diddle-i-diddle-i-fi

Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM