The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #89022   Message #1678516
Posted By: GUEST,Jon Boden
25-Feb-06 - 10:32 AM
Thread Name: Origins: The Golden Glove (Dog and Gun)
Subject: RE: Origins: The Golden Glove (Dog and Gun)
Hi Malcolm,

"Disguise and cross-dressing are so common in broadside songs that I don't really think we need to look further for enlightenment. Certainly not so far as "pre-Christian mystical imagery"! ..."

True but women (in such contexts) tend to cross-dress for a good reason (enlisting as a sailor, engaging in a bit of light armed-robbery etc.) The interesting thing about The Golden Glove is that the story is totally nonsensical. If her 'friends and relations' were not going to consent to her marrying the farmer, why would they consent to her marrying whoever happens to find her misplaced glove? Why does she need to dress up as a man (as opposed to any other disguise) in order to give the glove to the farmer? Why a glove anyway? Why not an expensive piece of jewelry?

The frisson of the song is about the subversion of sexual and social roles. Our heroine is casting off social obligations and assuming male power (of which the glove is a symbol) in order to acquire her man. (Interesting also that there is no father figure.) This is a text book sociological analysis of Lord of Misrule folk custom.

Not of course that I'm suggesting that the song had any direct involvement with the custom, just that they are/may be cognates of the same sociological trend.

"...Certainly not so far as "pre-Christian mystical imagery"! ..."

This (in my sleeve-notes) was referring to the golden glove itself, not the cross-dressing (although cross-dressing motifs are quite common in Old Norse sources.) I actually said 'magical imagery' not 'mystical imagery', which is a quite different thing.

It is just speculation, but then a golden glove is a fairly strange item to crop-up out of nowhere in a C19th text. It strikes me that if a 'golden glove' was mentioned in a folk-tale most people would automatically assume there was something magical about it.

In general it has surprised me how resistant the academic end of the folk-scene is to the idea of ancient thematic survival in modern traditional texts. I am no wishy-washy hippy, but it seems to me a fairly modest assumption that, in an aural culture, elements of aural tradition (folk-lore, superstition, fragments of ancient stories) should be absorbed into modern song forms, probably mostly in a sub-conscious form. We are very familiar we the notion of late C19th syntactical versions of C17th broadsides, why shouldn't C17th ballads be versions of C15th aural ballads and so on?

For example The Blacksmith seems to me to be closely linked to the Volundr/Weland legends. Again, just speculation, but then so is the view that they are not linked, yet this seems to be the default assumption of folk-academics. It is clear that the 'grey-cock' motif is a direct survival of pre-Christian belief, so why should any other survival seem so unlikely?

It seems a shame - both for the future of folk-academia (why isn't folk-song at least a option on university English Lit courses?!) but also just for the enjoyment of audiences. Certainly I don't think I would bother singing Golden Glove if I thought it was just a bit of nonsensical doggerel whimsy.