M. J. C. Hodgart (essay date 1962)
SOURCE: “The Ballads and Literature,” in The Ballads, W. W. Norton and Company, 1962, pp. 140-50.
[In the following excerpt, Hodgart examines how broadside ballads went from being considered “low art” in the seventeenth century to being a form that was embraced by British literary masters such as William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge by the end of the eighteenth century.]
The ballads have taken a great deal from learned literature, and … many of them show the hand of skilled poets. Throughout Europe there has been a continual movement of motifs and forms from the poetry of the élite into folk tradition. But there has also been a...
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