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John Minear Lyr Req: Demon Lover in New England? (182* d) RE: Lyr Req: Demon Lover in New England? 12 Jan 12


Part III

We are looking at 15 more or less complete versions, plus 6 fragments of "The House Carpenter" from the Northeastern region of the U.S. One of these is the "Andrews/De Marsan" broadside, printed in New York/Philadelphia in 1857/1860. I want to turn my attention now to trying to see what influence this broadside might have had on the ballad in this region. As I mentioned before, there are no exact reproductions of the broadside.

I want to begin by noting a couple of differences from the broadside version that are found widespread throughout the Northeast. In the third verse, the broadside has the line

"I will take you where the grass grows high,"

Out of the 21 versions represented, 14 of them have

"the grass grows GREEN" (or "greener" in the Cutting version)

These are Cornwright NY, Couchey NY, Willard NY, Cutting NY, Johnson ME, Reynolds ME/NH, Moses NH, Luther NH, Richards NH, Fish NH, Merrill NH, George VT, Mancour VT, and Degreenia CT. As can be seen, they are spread all over the region.

A second difference of wording comes at the end of the fourth verse. The broadside has

"And keep my from misery."

Out of the 21 versions represented, 11 have "SLAVERY" instead of "misery." They are Cornwright, Kelter, Couchey, Willard, Cuttng and Edwards of NY, Moses, Richards, Fish, and Merrill of NH, and George of VT.

The fact that these two wording differences are so widespread and so consistent suggests an alternative source, especially with regard to "misery"/"slavery", which are not really synonyms. It is curious why "slavery" would be preferred, and perhaps an interesting commentary on the situation of women in that culture (?). Grass growing "green" seems a more natural image than grass growing "high", perhaps suggesting that "green" was at least the more popular version, if not the more "original" or earlier version.


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