The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #141964 Message #3291562
Posted By: John Minear
16-Jan-12 - 04:05 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Demon Lover in New England?
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Demon Lover in New England?
A part of our discussion has focused on the influence of the Andrews/De Marsan broadside on the traditions of "The House Carpenter" that have shown up in the New England region. We have certainly seen that there must have been other sources involved in the formation of these traditions. But the question of "when?" is very difficult to figure out. In her article, Gardner-Medwin is suggesting that these earlier traditions may have been Scottish and that they may have preceded the printing of the broadsides by several generations, and in fact may have established the oral traditions from which the broadsides were taken. Here is an example of two arguments that she offers in this direction.
"One or two minor points also suggest that when this ballad was published in 1860 it was taken from a tradition that had been flourishing in America for a long time. The change from Ship Carpenter to House Carpenter is perfectly understandable since American houses are largely made of wood, yet it would seem likely that if this ballad had not been current inland for some time before it was taken up by De Marsan there might have been less reason to change the name, for even as late as 1869 there were wood carpenters working in the shipbuilding industry of the coastal towns. In the American tradition there is a marked increase in the length of the voyage mentioned. One is only told of a short sail in the British versions: compare these phrases "not been long upon the sea" (Child B); "a league but barely three" (C); "a league, a league, A league but barely twa" (D); "A mile awa, Never a mile but one" (G); with De Marsan "They had not sailed four weeks or more, Four weeks or scarcely three."Many American versions have this long voyage and it is possible that this reveals that the singers remembered the long and dreary voyage across the Atlantic that they or their forebears endured when emigrating. By the end of the nineteenth century the trans-Atlantic voyage was rather shorter than this, perhaps two weeks on the average, so the change must have taken place well before the printing of the De Marsan version."