Verse 1: 'I am a noble hero, / By birth I am enslaved, / Near to the town of Wexford, / There dwells a comely maid, / She is fairer than Diana, / She is free from earthly pride, / And, this lovely maid, her dwelling place, / Is near the Slaney side.' This broadside was published by James Lindsay of 9 King Street, Glasgow.
The River Slaney, which divides County Wexford in Ireland diagonally in two, is steeped in mythology and historical significance. Its name is derived from a mythic chieftain named Slainghe, and its waters have been navigated by Christian missionaries, Norse invaders and Normans in turn. Perhaps because of the area's rich heritage, the author of this ballad has cast his lovers in mythological terms. Like the 'noble heroes' in many myths, the narrator of the ballad is caught in an apparently endless quest to win the hand of his love.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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Probable period of publication:
1852-1859 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(96b)
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