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Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'

Windsinger 06 Feb 06 - 09:23 PM
GUEST,leeneia 06 Feb 06 - 09:46 PM
GUEST,Julia 06 Feb 06 - 10:12 PM
CapriUni 06 Feb 06 - 11:48 PM
Little Hawk 07 Feb 06 - 12:00 AM
Kaleea 07 Feb 06 - 12:02 AM
Little Hawk 07 Feb 06 - 12:41 AM
robinia 07 Feb 06 - 01:37 AM
Doug Chadwick 07 Feb 06 - 02:58 AM
Paul Burke 07 Feb 06 - 03:38 AM
Liz the Squeak 07 Feb 06 - 04:03 AM
Windsinger 07 Feb 06 - 07:30 AM
GUEST 07 Feb 06 - 07:34 AM
Janie 07 Feb 06 - 08:17 AM
GUEST 07 Feb 06 - 11:45 AM
Janie 07 Feb 06 - 01:02 PM
Bat Goddess 07 Feb 06 - 02:24 PM
Amos 07 Feb 06 - 02:52 PM
Windsinger 07 Feb 06 - 03:05 PM
Stilly River Sage 07 Feb 06 - 04:46 PM
Windsinger 07 Feb 06 - 05:14 PM
Rapparee 07 Feb 06 - 07:05 PM
Windsinger 08 Feb 06 - 10:56 AM
Amos 08 Feb 06 - 11:16 AM
CapriUni 09 Feb 06 - 04:05 AM
Windsinger 09 Feb 06 - 07:36 AM
Ron Davies 09 Feb 06 - 07:41 AM
Wilfried Schaum 09 Feb 06 - 08:33 AM
Windsinger 09 Feb 06 - 09:41 AM
Uncle_DaveO 09 Feb 06 - 10:20 AM
Stilly River Sage 09 Feb 06 - 10:21 AM
Windsinger 09 Feb 06 - 10:59 AM
dick greenhaus 09 Feb 06 - 11:15 AM
Amos 09 Feb 06 - 11:25 AM
GUEST 09 Feb 06 - 04:50 PM
Windsinger 09 Feb 06 - 07:37 PM
GUEST,Joe_F 09 Feb 06 - 11:00 PM
Stilly River Sage 10 Feb 06 - 12:35 AM
Wilfried Schaum 10 Feb 06 - 02:59 AM
Windsinger 10 Feb 06 - 07:18 AM
Wilfried Schaum 10 Feb 06 - 07:46 AM
Windsinger 10 Feb 06 - 08:51 AM
Snuffy 10 Feb 06 - 09:02 AM
Stilly River Sage 10 Feb 06 - 10:58 AM
GUEST,leeneia 10 Feb 06 - 11:16 AM
Windsinger 10 Feb 06 - 11:34 AM
Stilly River Sage 10 Feb 06 - 02:08 PM
Windsinger 10 Feb 06 - 02:15 PM
Wilfried Schaum 11 Feb 06 - 11:05 AM
Windsinger 11 Feb 06 - 11:43 AM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 11 Feb 06 - 01:55 PM
Windsinger 13 Feb 06 - 07:36 AM
beardedbruce 16 Jan 07 - 06:11 PM
Ebbie 16 Jan 07 - 06:40 PM
GUEST,meself 16 Jan 07 - 07:14 PM
Amos 16 Jan 07 - 07:29 PM
GUEST,JTT 16 Jan 07 - 07:39 PM
Susan of DT 16 Jan 07 - 08:33 PM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Oct 15 - 10:56 AM
MGM·Lion 30 Oct 15 - 01:06 PM
Steve Gardham 30 Oct 15 - 02:26 PM
Janie 30 Oct 15 - 04:07 PM
GUEST,leeneia 31 Oct 15 - 11:37 AM
MGM·Lion 31 Oct 15 - 12:46 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Windsinger
Date: 06 Feb 06 - 09:23 PM

Greetings everyone!

A recurring discussion comes up among the musicians with whom I trade folk-songs. It concerns a poetic device I call the "mystery bardic disease."

You know the cuplrit. It dropped Sweet William in "Barbara Allen," and a thousand other tear-jerker ballads like it. Basically, it sounds like balladeers have been suggesting for hundreds of years that heartbreak can kill you outright.

Hmph. Hyperdramatic, huh?

...or is it just a euphemism for something else? Suicide? Heart attack/stroke from stress? Voluntary starvation? Or just the way clinical depression slowly erodes your health until you catch something fatal?

Whatever this malady is---real or fictitious---do you guys ever discuss, postulate, or kick around ideas about what it might be?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 06 Feb 06 - 09:46 PM

Well, let's see. In the ballad "Sweet Willie and Lady Margot," after the lady dies of love, her lover, the evil Willie, rides to her father's castle.

Her father budged the coffin lid.
Her brother unwound the sheet.
And after he's kiss-ed her many, many times,
Sweet Willie fell dead at her feet.

I've often wondered whether the father and brother conked him on the head and didn't mention it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: GUEST,Julia
Date: 06 Feb 06 - 10:12 PM

It often seems to be some kind of "wasting" malady suggesting anorexia or at the very least depression. Most of these seem to occur in ballads from the north lands- long cold winters, lots of rain...
It's enough to make you wizzle up!

Anyone know of any from sunnier climes?

Julia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: CapriUni
Date: 06 Feb 06 - 11:48 PM

Well, I heard this report on my radio, one morning, while listening to NPR: Study Links Emotional Stress, Heart Attacks.

(I see by the dateline it was nearly a year ago. I could have sworn it was only a couple of months... where does the time go?)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 12:00 AM

Well, extreme depression does weaken the immune system. I knew 2 terminally depressed girls who both managed to die quite young by just wasting away. They speeded the process up with alcoholism and other bad habits.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Kaleea
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 12:02 AM

Just the other day on tv, I saw a heart Dr saying that it is true that often people DO die because their emotional "heart" is broken over some life change-especially a big loss, thus causing their physical heart to become broken literally.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 12:41 AM

Yes, the vital energy that keeps the heart healthy diminishes, and the heart fails, killing the person.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: robinia
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 01:37 AM

I'll second Kaleea on this -- and I don't think it's just people who can lose the will to live. It can happen to other animals with a strong "attachment" potential (like dogs and baby elephants). Sorry I can't furnish some links to this, but I'm convinced it's no myth. And not restricted to "romantic love" either...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 02:58 AM

My grandfather lived just long enough to bury my grandmother. He collapsed and died when he got home from the funeral – both at a fairly young age. Maybe coincidence or maybe he couldn't live without her.

DC


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Paul Burke
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 03:38 AM

Weel Doug, my grandmother did better than that. Grandad had been taken into hospital following a stroke. My Mum was looking after Granny. Granny said, "Make us a cup of tea, Peggy." She went to the kitchen to make it, but when she came back, Granny was slumped in her chair, not breathing. She rushed out to telephone the doctor (few people had phones in the house then), and met her brother comimg from the hospital, bringing the news that Grandad had died.

Everyone said it was a lovely funeral.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 04:03 AM

There are many documented instances of widowed partners waiting just long enough to bury the deceased, just as there are many others who live on for several years after. Quite often though, you'll find couples who died within days of each other, but years apart. My own grandparents both died in the week before Christmas, granpop went first on the 19th Dec and granny died on the 20th, 3 years later.

Personally, knowing how much my own health suffered after a particularly traumatic breakup several years ago, I am sure it could happen that someone might go into a decline and fade away.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Windsinger
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 07:30 AM

"Well, I heard this report on my radio, one morning, while listening to NPR:"
----------------------------------

Right, stumbling over a report on acute stress cardiomyopathy (a.k.a. "Broken Heart Syndrome") was one of the things which brought the question foremost to my mind.

Another was watching a performance of "King Lear" recently. In Lear's case, I'm willing to believe it was a stroke or heart attack. The character WAS eightysomething at time of death, and was being subjected to an awful lot of stress. (Shakespearean characters get taken out by the "mystery bardic disease" too---though they're far more likely to be stabbed, or stab themselves, or drink poison.)

But the malady referenced in most tragic romance-ballads, seems to afflict young lovers more than anyone. People who ought to be perfectly hale and healthy.

Heh. Maybe I should start formulating a list of ballads as examples, and see if there's common linkage? The "symptoms," if any, are always kind of vague.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 07:34 AM

I believe there was a slight reduction in the death rate in the days leading up to the new millennium, and a slight increase thereafter - perhaps people were just hanging on.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Janie
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 08:17 AM

When I was in graduate school, a friend and class mate lost a son in a car wreck. The shock of it caused a heart attack and she nearly died herself. There was no indication of heart disease. (We were both in our early 40's at the time.)

Janie


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 11:45 AM

Maybe it was actually the "new" disease mentioned earlier in the thread?

Supposedly, Acute Stress Cardiomyopathy happens when your system is flooded with so many stress hormones, it stuns the heart and makes it temporarily cease to beat. Just long enough to mimick the symptoms of a classic heart attack.

Main difference being, the rate of fatality and/or permanent damage is lower. While A.S.C. *CAN* be lethal, usually the worst that happens is their left ventricle is sluggish for a few days. After that, if the victim's otherwise healthy and has a good emotional support network, they bounce back pretty quickly.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Janie
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 01:02 PM

Guest, you may well be correct.

Janie


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 02:24 PM

Sometimes it's when a woman (usually young) is forced to marry someone other than the man she loves (who is usually off traveling somewhere, not necessarily by her father's suggestion).

Linn


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Amos
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 02:52 PM

Lady Nancy she died as it were today
Lord Lovell, he dies on the morrow
Lady Nancy, she died of a broken heart,
And Lord Lovell died of sorrow,
Lord Lovell he died of sorrow


Of course, this is an extreme romantic ballad -- these people were not pragmatists.

But the theme is scattered throughout the genre.

A


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Windsinger
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 03:05 PM

And speaking of extreme, let's not forget good ol' "Anarchie Gordon." ;) A great example of the archetype.

Lawks. Oppressive father or not, I totally wanted to SMACK Jeannie the Hystrionic Heroine in that one. :P Sounds like she and Anarchie deserved one another...

Whereas in "Step It Out Mary," which has a lot in common with "Anarchie," that was a clear-cut case of suicide (IIRC.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 04:46 PM

Then there is "The Unquiet Grave," in which the ghost counsels the young woman to let go of her grief because she is too young to die.

Here it is in the DT.

"My breast is cold as clay,
My breath is earthly strong,
And if you kiss my cold clay lips,
You days they won't be long."

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Windsinger
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 05:14 PM

Incidentally:

A friend of mine who did a thesis on the subject, indicated that out of Child's ballads, "Unquiet Grave" actually presents a respectable case for having a medieval/Renaissance origin.

("Wife of Usher's Well" was another, I forget the one or two others she cited.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Rapparee
Date: 07 Feb 06 - 07:05 PM

Very very recents studies show that women don't exhibit that same heart attack symptoms as men. This could very well be one of the reasons that they are hale and hearty one moment and dead the next.

As for kissing clay cold lips -- I suppose that viruses and bacteria could easily be spread that way.

But I have experienced at least two cases in my own family where the will to live simply became non-existent and the people (one elderly, one in his 30s) can only be said to have wished themselves to die and did.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Windsinger
Date: 08 Feb 06 - 10:56 AM

"As for kissing clay cold lips -- I suppose that viruses and bacteria could easily be spread that way."
---------------

Hmph. Good point.

Some of the ballads in question seem to romanticize death unto the point of actual necrophilia (a quirk shared by fairy tales like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.)   ewwwwwwwwwwww


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Amos
Date: 08 Feb 06 - 11:16 AM

Why anymore from cold ones than from the ones at bacteria-favored temperatures?


A


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: CapriUni
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 04:05 AM

Well, A.S.C. may only be fatal in rare cases, today. But I wonder if the same was true in previous centuries, when diets were poorer (especially in the winter, when fresh vegetables were not available) and the general life expentancy was far shorter.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Windsinger
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 07:36 AM

Why anymore from cold ones than from the ones at bacteria-favored temperatures?

Heh.

I haven't looked at what the cocktail of decomposer-bacteria (psycrophilic, mesophilic and thermophilic) might do to a live human. But these ARE still the three main "critters" present in the average compost heap. Which is essentially what the impassioned lover'd be kissing. :P

It bears mentioning that when these bugs are active, they do generate their own heat, creating a habitable environment for other bugs. Ones that might be far nastier to a live human.

Not to mention, the aroma of all this activity should be enough to send the most romantic and stalwart mourner screaming, surely. :P


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 07:41 AM

Consider how soon after June Carter Cash died that Johnny Cash also did (among many other examples). It seems to happen often with very close couples.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 08:33 AM

Most of these seem to occur in ballads from the north lands- long cold winters, lots of rain...

... but it also happens on the sunny knolls and meadows of my home Germany - in a lot of old ballads.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Windsinger
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 09:41 AM

OK...let me toss out the following time-waster. :)

Just for a lark, let's compile a list of ballads where a grieving lover, spouse (or in rare cases, parent) either drops dead suddenly or wastes away. No clear cause of death given, but "oh-they-must-have-died-of-grief" is either stated or strongly implied (i.e., the mystery bardic ailment.)

Here's four to start with, some of which have already been mentioned in this thread:

-Anarchie Gordon
-Barbara Allen
-Sweet Willie and Lady Margot
-Standing Stones*

*This one was made popular by Loreena McKennit, but the liner notes say she arranged it from a traditional piece (not named).

Any other suggestions?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 10:20 AM

I may be mistaken (a handsome admission if I ever heard one), but I think the name is Anachie, not "Anarchie".   

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 10:21 AM

All I can think of now are the ones where one of the lovers was murdered.

Lord Randall
Three Craw (Crows)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Windsinger
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 10:59 AM

Ah, now murder ballads. :) Folks on this list can probably rattle off a dozen without breaking a sweat...

-Lord Randall
-Three Ravens/Twa Corbies
-Twa Corbies
-Long Lankin
-Little Sir Hugh
-The Cruel Mother
-Twa Sisters (recorded by Pentangle as "The Cruel Sister" and McKennit as "The Bonnie Swans")
-Lady Isabel
-Bold Poachers
-Sir James the Rose
-Maid of Cabra West
-Tom Dooley

...but in most or all of these, the deceased has a clearly stated cause of death.

Good sub-genre though.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 11:15 AM

The Great Selkie is one of the most explicit in regards to this:
"An her tender heart, it brak in three."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Amos
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 11:25 AM

Lord Lovell, a s mentioned above, is clearly heartbreak-caused death; it says so.

And there's "The Butcher Boy", where a lass hangs herself by a rope for abandoned love; and "I Never Shall Marry", which is another suicide for love.

These are slightly off dying of a broken heart directly, but I am sure you could argue it as the first cause in the chain.

A


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 04:50 PM

but it also happens on the sunny knolls and meadows of my home Germany - in a lot of old ballads.

Wilfried...really? Care to rattle off any titles?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Windsinger
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 07:37 PM

(GAH! forgot I wasn't logged in when I made the previous post. Oops.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 11:00 PM

"Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love." -- _As You Like It_

--- Joe Fineman    joe_f@verizon.net

||: An economic question is a moral question rendered spuriously precise in terms of a unit of exchange. :||


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 12:35 AM

". . .that I hanged myself, for the butcher's boy. . . "

I have to go get out some of the albums out and listen to them again. McCurdy recorded that one that, I think. Or was it Dyer Bennett?

Silkie I thought of mentioning above also, but figured I'd get too far off track to quickly if I expanded the list. I see others have the same thoughts about these great old songs. They do stick with you.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 02:59 AM

First rattle, some poems by well known authors, but sung by the folk:
Die Wehklage
Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen
Der Traum
Have to browse some songbooks, because I'm interested more in other kinds of songs


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Windsinger
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 07:18 AM

Oo! Oo!

I can't believe I forgot to mention "She Moved Through The Fair:"

The people were saying, no two e'er were wed
But one had a sorrow that never was said
And I smiled as she passed with her goods and her gear,
And that was the last that I saw of my dear.

Last night she came to me, my dead love came in
So softly she came that her feet made no din
As she laid her hand on me and this she did say
"It will not be long, love, 'til our wedding day"


Anyone ever wonder what dropped her so darned suddenly? Not heartbreak, surely. Maybe a freak disease?

I have similar questions about Mary from "Banks of the Lee...."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 07:46 AM

Methinks the song is concerning about him - dying soon (of broken heart, I suppose)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Windsinger
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 08:51 AM

Right, I think the remark about their "wedding day" pretty clearly means he will join her in death soon.

As to what killed her, I guess we're supposed to wonder.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Snuffy
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 09:02 AM

Plenty of threads on here pointing out that the "dead" love in She Moved Through The Fair is a later addition (or misprint, or similar). Definitely not in the song as originally written.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 10:58 AM

I don't know if "My Last Duchess" was ever sung, but she's dead and he's not pining.

Lots of poems that are probably also great songs (but I haven't heard them yet).

How about "The Griesly Wife."

"Lie still, my newly married wife,
Lie easy as you can.
You're young and ill accustomed yet
To sleeping with a man."

The snow lay thick, the moon was full
And shone across the floor.
The young wife went with never a word
Barefooted to the door.

He up and followed sure and fast,
The moon shone clear and white.
But before his coat was on his back,
His wife was out of sight.

He trod the trail wherever it turned
By many a mound and scree,
And still the barefoot track led on,
And an angry man was he.

He followed fast, he followed slow,
And still he called her name,
But only the dingoes of the hills
Yowled back at him again.

His hair stood up along his neck,
His angry mind was gone,
For the track of the two bare feet gave out
And a four-foot track went on.

Her nightgown lay upon the snow
As it might upon the sheet,
For the track that led from where it lay
Was never of human feet.

His heart turned over in his chest,
He looked from side to side,
And he thought more of his gumwood fire
Than he did of his griesly bride.

And first he started walking back
And then began to run,
And his quarry wheeled at the end of her track
And hunted him in turn.

Oh, long may the fire burn for him
And open stand the door,
And long the bed may wait empty
He'll not be back any more.

- John Manifold


I stumbled upon a paper discussing the following poem when looking for the last one. We don't know the cause of death, but it certainly conveys the sentiment that would follow many of the songs like Barbara Allen.
An Epitaph upon a Young Married Couple, Dead and Buried Together
by Richard Crashaw

To these, whom death again did wed,
This grave's their second marriage-bed.
For though the hand of fate could force
'Twixt soul and body a divorce,
It could not sunder man and wife 5
'Cause they both livéd but one life.
Peace, good reader. Do not weep.
Peace, the lovers are asleep.
They, sweet turtles, folded lie
In the last knot love could tie. 10
And though they lie as they were dead,
Their pillow stone, their sheets of lead,
(Pillow hard, and sheets not warm)
Love made the bed; they'll take no harm;
Let them sleep, let them sleep on. 15
Till this stormy night be gone,
Till th' eternal morrow dawn;
Then the curtains will be drawn
And they wake into a light,
Whose day shall never die in night. 20


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 11:16 AM

I'm going to be practical. If you are composing a work, whether a s poem, novel, or drama, it is much easier to kill off a character than to describe the character's dreary existence for years and years. It's also more dramatic.

I agree that old couples may well die within a short time, but you can also kill an old person by taking them out of her home. At least, that's what a friend of mine who is a social worker for the aged tells me. So it's not love, it's the shock to a frail system of losing the familiar.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Windsinger
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 11:34 AM

I don't know if "My Last Duchess" was ever sung, but she's dead and he's not pining.

The one by Browning?

Yeah...IIRC tho, there's some scholarly debate (supported by hints and nods from Browning himself) over whether the duke had his wife killed, or he put her away quietly in a nunnery. I don't know that he himself ever made up his mind.

Killed is more dramatic, I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 02:08 PM

Yes, Browning. It has been years since I studied that one, but it read like a sly confession to me.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Windsinger
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 02:15 PM

Sure; shades of Henry VIII.

Though if any of the Medici or their coevals (the duke was supposed to be Italian, right?) ever entered and dissolved as many marriages as Henry did, or as frivolously, I've not heard of it.

However the speaker did dispose of his last duchess, he sounded frostily unrepentant.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 11 Feb 06 - 11:05 AM

Further German examples:

1. Schwesterlein, wann gehn wir nach Haus?
A hidden reference to the girl's untrue lover in stanza 4, her imminent death in last stanza.
2. 's ist alles dunkel
Stanza 4 later addition?
3. Die Königskinder
Translation of the Nether German original .
4. Das Lied vom jungen Grafen (Elsaß)
The Alsatian version was collected by Goethe during his studies in Strassburg.
5. Es ritt ein Reiter sehr wohlgemut
The surviving lover didn't die, but killed himself immediately when seeing his dead love (maybe to hasten the process of a slow death)

All in ingeb.org, also in Robokopp: 1, 2, 3, 4

In Jewish Folk Songs / Ruth Rubin. - New York, 1965
I found: "Ale vasserlech flisn avek" where a girl states: Agirl whose love is not return must perish - which we could take as an aequivalent to Dying of a broken heart


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Windsinger
Date: 11 Feb 06 - 11:43 AM

Thanks, Wilfried!

(Now I wish my German was better. lol)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 11 Feb 06 - 01:55 PM

True story from my part of the world....

Story of long-dead Lunenburg girl makes new book 'Curious Canadians'

It's a story that's touched a lot of lives, not the least of which were those of Toronto-based authors Nancy and Ted Liss.

Several years ago, the couple traveled to Lunenburg to research the story of Sophia McLaughlin, the 14-year-old dressmaker's apprentice who died in 1879 from what a coroner's inquest, and her headstone in the Hillcrest Cemetery, declare was a broken heart. It happened after she was wrongly accused of stealing $10 from her employer, a Mrs. Trask. After Sophia's death, Mrs. Trask's son admitted to the theft.

Taken as much by the town's ongoing tribute to the girl – her grave is marked with both a new granite stone and a decorative wrought iron fence, featuring the likeness of a broken heart – as they were with her story, the authors have included Sophia among the 34 real-life tales recounted in their new book Curious Canadians.

For seven years, the couple criss-crossed the country seeking out these stories.

"It was hard…(but) a labour of love," says Mrs. Liss, particularly, as it gave the couple the opportunity to meet so many fellow Canadians. "Wherever we went, people were so enthusiastic and encouraging," she says.

The book, published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside, is now available from a number of Canadian bookstores and there are hopes of also offering it in the United States.

In the meantime, the couple are working on another book along the same lines as Curious Canadians but looking at Americans. To this point, it remains untitled. And Mrs. Liss has also written a full-length novel based on the life of Sophia McLaughlin.

"I don't have a publisher for it yet, but hope lives eternal," says the author, adding she's "determined that Sophia's story be known."

- feature article appeared in The Bulletin and The Progress Enterprise in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Windsinger
Date: 13 Feb 06 - 07:36 AM

Hmph! 14...well, that's sure too young for a "true" coronary.

I'd still be interested in reading further details about the inquest, though. Seems odd for a licensed doctor, even in the 19th centruy, to actually put that on the death certificate...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: beardedbruce
Date: 16 Jan 07 - 06:11 PM

can't resist bringing this to the top...


8-{E


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Ebbie
Date: 16 Jan 07 - 06:40 PM

I have several stories of cause/effect. One is of my brother in law after my sister's death. Six weeks after she died, his heart 'broke', almost literally. Their daughter, living at home, is an RN and her quick action plus the fact that an EMT lived on the same block and came running was the only thing that saved him. Almost 10 years later, he is still living but his heart is more than 30% gone. Doctors talked about cutting it away but decided against it.

Leenia: "I agree that old couples may well die within a short time, but you can also kill an old person by taking them out of her home. At least, that's what a friend of mine who is a social worker for the aged tells me. So it's not love, it's the shock to a frail system of losing the familiar."

When I was a girl I worked in a nursing home that was church-owned. An elderly couple had willed their home to the church and when they became increasingly at risk whle living on their own, the church started pressuring them to move into the nursing home. They resisted for more than six months but one day the word came that they had capitulated.

The nursing home, all excited, revamped one of the rooms, putting in a double bed and making the room 'homey'.

The couple came. That night the man died in his sleep alongside his sleeping wife. A week or so later she fell and broke her hip. She died.

Within three weeks the whole thing was over.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 16 Jan 07 - 07:14 PM

Death by broken heart - of the young, at least - seems strange to us moderns only because of the effects of evolution, or natural selection: most of those humans of the strain predisposed to die of broken heart had done so by the end of the 19th Century, most having failed to reproduce themselves (and those who did reproduce usually ended up drowning their offspring, or, less often, dispatching them with a penknife, shortly before dying of a broken heart, as so many ballads attest). As a consequence, we have seldom seen this phenomenon in our own lives, and so tend to regard with some skepticism the historical accounts of such. Clearly, though, there was a time when it was an every day occurrence, as was, for instance, death by bubonic plague. And the quasi-legal hanging of wooers of their daughters by jealous fathers.

I hope this explains satisfactorily a previously-puzzling medical phenomenon.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Amos
Date: 16 Jan 07 - 07:29 PM

I believe firmly that a great loss, by death or misunderstanding of a genuinely intimate connection, can drop the trapdoor right out from under one. It can also happen when one loses something long familiar. But the deaths of true-lovers-by-heartbreak is, I think only slightly exagerrated for romantic effect. The steep emotional shock just takes 'em right down, like being tackled by a linebacker, as it were.

One man's opinion.

A


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 16 Jan 07 - 07:39 PM

It doesn't have to be humans. Neighbours of mine had a beloved cat. Then they had a baby, and they simply stopped loving the cat. She'd be outside, staring in and calling pitifully.

They asked me to take her, but I thought this was pointless, as I lived so near them that she'd make her way home. Now I wish I had.

They went out one snowy morning and found her dead. When the vet did a post mortem he said it was acute cardiomyopathy, but I always thought it was a broken heart.

Another friend had a dog; when my friend died, the dog kept watching for him until the day, a year or so later, when the people who'd been with him when he died brought home his bag and his clothes to his widow.

The dog ran over and sniffed frantically, then he put his nose to the sky and howled. And then he basically howled and howled for a couple of months until he died.

(On a lighter note, I'm sure we all know the ballad of anarcho-syndicalist gordon.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Susan of DT
Date: 16 Jan 07 - 08:33 PM

I have a spreadsheet where I have all the Child ballads and who kills whom and why.

Child ballads where someone dies for love:
   #64 Fair Janet
   #74 Lady Margaret & King William
   #75 Lord Lovel
   #84 Barbara Allen
   #85 George Collins
#229 Earl Crawford
#235 Earl of Aboyne
#239 Annachie Gordon
#256 Allison & Willie
#262 Lord Livingston
#295 Rich Irish Lady
Also #238 Jeanne of Bethelnie was saved from dying for love when the man relented and decided to marry her.


Funny, most of these are not popular today. I don't even remember the story on several of these without looking them up.

By my calculations, a bit over half of the Child ballads involve death in some form. (Part of why this is so "low" is that the Robin Hood ballads rarely involve death and there are 40 or more of them in the 305.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Oct 15 - 10:56 AM

I can believe that if two people are together a long time and one dies, that the other might die too as a result. But I have little patience with ballads where some person, usually male, falls instantly in love with a another, and dies when he can't have her.

As in 'Barbara Allen.'

In a long-term relationship, years of smell, touch, food, decor, comfort and familiarity are woven into the survivor's personality. In a case like Barbara Allen, the man's "heartbreak" is mere egoism.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Oct 15 - 01:06 PM

Even then, I think your first postulation is a bit dubious, leeneia. As it says in As You Like It, "men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them. But not for love." Oh, old Will knew wotz-wot right enuf.

Take me, if that is not too egocentric -- just happens to be what I know most about, & I think I can be a fair exemplar. My first, greatly loved wife, died 8 years ago after 48 years' marriage. Of course I mourned; I still sometimes find myself having a little cry for her in the night. But one moves on. I married my dear present wife 5 years ago. "Valerie was the love of your life, wasn't she?" she said to me a bit anxiously early in our marriage. "While she was there, of course," I said; "but one must move on if one is to survive. There is room for more than one 'love of one's life', with reason and goodwill."

We are still happy together...

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Oct 15 - 02:26 PM

The trauma would surely affect different personalities in different ways. I don't believe in any supernatural nonsense but I do believe that the mind can be distracted sometimes to extreme degrees and this affects the physical body.

Shakespeare did not always put the truth into the mouths of his characters, as with all fiction writers.

An old couple lived in the middle of our estate for over 40 years in the same house and a feral family moved in next door that allowed the children of other feral families onto the property, stealing property, lighting fires, throwing large lumps of concrete into their garden, pulling down fences. After weeks of this stress the old couple moved into a home for the elderly. They both lasted less than a month.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: Janie
Date: 30 Oct 15 - 04:07 PM

A good friend with no heart disease had a heart attack when notified her youngest son was killed in a car wreck.

The mind, i.e. the brain, is part of the body. The body is a system. Anything that impacts one part of the body impacts the entire system to one degree or another.

Or what Amos said.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 31 Oct 15 - 11:37 AM

Michael, please note that I wrote "...the other MIGHT die".

I'm happy for you because you have had two fine marriages.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Dying of a 'Broken Heart'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 31 Oct 15 - 12:46 PM

That is indeed so. Thank you for your kind words, leeneia. Marriage seems to be something I am quite good at - not parentage, I have grown-up step-children now, but Valerie & I had none of our own.

I am reminded of one of my favourite epigrams, by Elizabethan/Jacobean wit Sir Henry Wotton*

He first deceased,
She for a little tried
To live without him,
Liked it not, and died

≈M≈

*author also of the wonderful pun about an ambassador being a man 'sent to lie abroad on behalf of his country' ['lie' in the old sense of 'reside', as well as the obvious other one]


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