This ballad begins: 'Good evening, my friends, I'll have you to know / I went to a circus a short time ago ; / When in my box, gazing all about, / Some fellow by my side like a bear shouted out--- / Look where she goes, / My own Sophia, / Swinging, by Jove, / On the daring slack wire.' It was published on April 4th 1874.
The circus was very popular in late-Victorian times, and several songs appeared glorifying the various performers' exploits. This song, dedicated to Sophia, the tightrope walker, or 'funambulist', is very much of its time. Another, very famous circus-related song, is 'The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze', which was also written in the 1870s.
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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Date of publication:
1874 shelfmark: RB.m.143(136)
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