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Lord Lovel

Lord Lovel is one of the ballads anthologized by Francis James Child during the second half of the 19th century, (Roud 49) and exists in several variants.[1] This ballad is originally from England, originating in the Late Middle Ages, with the oldest known versions being found in the regions of Gloucestershire, Somerset, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, and Wiltshire.[2]

Synopsis

A lord tells the lady he loves that he is going in a journey that will take several years. After a time, he longs to see her. He returns whereupon he hears of her death, and dies of grief.

The journey that Lord Lovel undertakes is possibly a pilgrimage, a quest to a holy shrine, though in some versions he is going "Foreign countries for to see, see, see".[3] and in the version in Horace Walpole's letters he is going "To dwell in fair Scotland".[4]

Early versions

One known version was included in a letter written in 1765 by Horace Walpole to Thomas Percy, the compiler of "Reliques of Ancient English Poetry" (1765), a source for many of Child's ballads. Walpole writes "I enclose an old ballad, which I write down from memory, and perhaps very incorrectly, for it is above five and twenty years since I learned it". In Walpole's version the lady's name is Lady Hounsibelle.[5] The song originated in the Late Middle Ages, with the oldest known versions being found in the regions of Gloucestershire, Somerset, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, and Wiltshire.[2]

Broadsides and early printed versions

There are a number of broadside versions dating back as far as 1833.[6] The song was included in Dixon, Ancient Poems Ballads & Songs (1846).

Versions collected from traditional singers

The Roud Folk Song Index lists 31 versions from England, mainly from southern counties; 18 from Scotland, (some Aberdeenshire singers knew the song as "Lord Lovat", and two Edinburgh singers knew it as "Lord Revel"); and 3 versions from Ireland, two under the title "Lord Levett" and one under the title "Lord Duneagle". There are 4 versions from Canada and 153 from the USA. One Kentucky version was titled "Lord Lovely".[7]

Field recordings

There is a fine version sung by Norfolk singer Walter Pardon in 1974 in the Reg Hall collection in the British Library Sound Archive.[8] Jeannie Robertson was recorded singing "Lord Lovat" in Aberdeen in 1953.[9]

Variants

Forms of this ballad are very common in Scandinavia and Germany.[10]

The ballads, Lord Thomas and Fair Annet and Fair Margaret and Sweet William contain some similar themes, but in those ballads, the hero is actively fickle, seeking another bride.[11]

A closer equivalent to this ballad is Lady Alice, Child ballad 85.[12]

Child complained that "Lord Lovel" is prone to parody: "Therefore a gross taste has taken pleasure in parodying it".[13] A version in Roy Palmer's "A Book of British Ballads" contains this verse, describing Lord Lovel's death:

Then he flung himself down by the side of the corpse,
With a shivering gulp and a guggle,
Gave two hops, three kicks, heav'd a sigh, blew his nose.
Sung a song and then died in the struggle, the struggle,
Sung a song and then died in the struggle.,[3]

A parody collected in Virginia starts;

Abe Lincoln stood at the White House Gate
Combing his milk-white steed,
When along came Lady Lizzie Tod,
Wishing her lover good speed, speed, speed,
Wishing her lover good speed.[14]

References

  1. ^ Francis James Child, English and Scottish Popular Ballads, "Lord Lovel"
  2. ^ a b Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, v 5, p 790, Dover Publications, New York 1965
  3. ^ a b Palmer, Roy; A Book of English Ballads; Lampeter, 1980.
  4. ^ [[images.library.yale.edu] "Yale edition of Walpole�s correspondence"]. images.library.yale.edu. Retrieved 19 April 2018. replacement character in |title= at position 24 (help)
  5. ^ name="Horace"
  6. ^ [ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk]
  7. ^ "Search". vwml.org. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Lord Lovell - Reg Hall English, Irish and Scottish Folk Music and Customs Collection - World and traditional music - British Library - Sounds". sounds.bl.uk. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Lord Lovat". tobarandualchais.co.uk. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  10. ^ Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, v 2, p 204-6, Dover Publications, New York 1965
  11. ^ Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, v 2, p 204, Dover Publications, New York 1965
  12. ^ Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, v 2, p 279, Dover Publications, New York 1965
  13. ^ name="Child2"
  14. ^ Spiegel, Max. "ABE LINCOLN STOOD AT THE WHITE HOUSE GATE". mudcat.org. Retrieved 19 April 2018.

External links