Verse 1: 'Thou dark rolling River, how gladly for ever, / I'd dwell on the rich banks, all rich with the vine, / That bright sky above thee, how fondly I'd love thee, / If blest with the heart of the maid of the Rhine.'
This song is addressed to the river Rhine. The narrator praises the beauty of its mountains and dales, and the richness and fertility of its valley, yet confesses that he will only be happy to live on its banks if he can win the heart of 'the maid of the Rhine'. Poems and songs addressing and praising some non-human aspect of nature have probably existed for as long as music and literature have been created. It is very common for this appreciation of nature to be bound up in some way with a human romantic dilemma, as in this song.
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:
1880-1900 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(94b)
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