Thursday, January 9, 2014

For I Must Cross the Stream Tonight. . .

The world of the old ballads is a particularly vivid one. The topography of that land boasts not merely hills, but high, high hills, the wine is no pale stuff, but blood-red, and you might think, from the tales, that it was there rarely any season but the merry month of May. But if the charms of that land are bright as gems, its perils are to be found at every turn, for the rose seems rarely to grow without the brier, and all of the waters are wondrous deep and wondrous strong.

I think I shall be perennially entranced by the language of those songs. There is a dignity to them, perhaps lent, in part, by age, but if the words are simple and the tales sad, they seem the more poignant, like illuminations from old manuscripts painted in bright colours with never a brush-stroke out of place. I rather suspect I will be posting more than one of them this month, but for starters, here's Kate Rusby singing "Annan Waters."

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