The Legends of the Panjab, 第 1 卷

Fb&c Limited, 2015年6月17日 - 577 頁
Excerpt from The Legends of the Panjab, Vol. 1

It has been said that old wives' tales are but memories of the recitations of bards, and that in countries where the bardic element has died out, they contain in a form of simple narrative, suited to rustic ears, the poetic effusions of earlier times. If this idea be a correct one - as I believe it to be - then it follows that where the folktale and the bard's poem exist side by side, as in the Panjâb, the latter is the older and the more valuable form of the same growth, though, of course, the influence of the folktale will react on the poem. It follows again that it is even more important, from the point of view of the folklorist - to use an Americanism which seems to be steadily gaining ground all the world over - to gather and record accurately the poems than the tales. Hence the task I have set myself in this work.

There is another point about a folk-poem that renders it more valuable than a folktale as a true reflex of popular notions. Neither are ever recorded on paper by those who preserve them, and both the old wife and the bard almost invariably trust to memory, with the inevitable result that their individuality comes into play and no two reciters narrate alike. The rhythm of the verses - and where the poem is rhymed the rhyme more especially - limits the vagaries of the bards to a wholesome extent, whereas there is nothing but the poverty of the rustic imagination, - which is very much greater than is generally thought, - to limit the variations of the village story teller. It may be fairly stated that half a dozen bards singing the same story in the same metre to the same accompaniment will sing it in the same way, occasional verbal variations excepted; but any one who has experience of collecting folktales knows, that the only satisfactory way of getting down a story is from the mouths of many persons and recording that form which is mostly in vogue.

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