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Vaughan Williams on Music$
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David Manning

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182392

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182392.001.0001

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Folk Songs of the Four Seasons

Folk Songs of the Four Seasons

(p.369) Chapter 87 Folk Songs of the Four Seasons
Vaughan Williams on Music

David Manning

Oxford University Press

The subjects of English folk songs—whether they deal with romance, tragedy, conviviality, or legend—have the background of nature and its seasons. When the lovers make love the plough boys are ploughing in the spring and the lark is singing. When May comes round the moment is appropriate to celebrate it in song. The succession of flowers in the garden provides symbols for the deserted lover. The festivity of the Harvest Home is celebrated in the allegory of “John Barleycorn.” The young maiden meets her dead lover among the storms and cold winds of autumn; and the joy of Christmas is set in its true background of frost and snow. The songs come from various sources from Cecil Sharp's Folk Songs from Somerset, and from the collections of Lucy Broadwood and Fuller Maitland.

Keywords:   folk songs, romance, tragedy, nature, seasons, John Barleycorn, Cecil Sharp, Somerset, Lucy Broadwood, Fuller Maitland

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