Lullabies of the Four Nations: A Coronal of Song with Renderings from the Welsh and the Gaelic by Adelaide L J Gosset

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Adelaide L J Gosset
Forgotten Books
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Lullabies of the Four Nations: A Coronal of Song with Renderings from the Welsh and the Gaelic

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Book review

Excerpt from Lullabies of the Four Nations: A Coronal of Song With Renderings From the Welsh and the Gaelic

In the "graceful and interesting study" of lullabies (as a poet has called it) there is much attraction. And I hope that my little book will fall into the hands of those who will give it a kindly welcome, and be lenient to such shortcomings as are inseparable from a work of this character. Mrs. Meynell tells us that no child ever goes to sleep. "It is pursued and overtaken by sleep, caught, surprised and overcome." It would seem that some of the poets realise this, as appears from such lines as these:

"Gude be praised, the battle's by,
An' sleep has won at last."

The composers of these lullabies appear to have used every possible device, from the terrible to the dainty, to induce slumber; what wakeful Creeveen Cno could resist the following by Walsh?:

"Sweet babe, a golden cradle holds thee,
Soft a snow-white fleece enfolds thee,
Fairest flowers are strewn before thee,
Sweet birds warble o'er thee
Shoheen sho lo! In In lo."

But not to break so delicate a butterfly upon the wheel of my remarks, I will only add a few words to explain the general method of arrangement. The grouping is according to subject, and within these groupings all is in a roughly chronological order; while England leads the way, followed by Wales, the Isle of Man, Ireland and Scotland. The collection indeed covers ground as far north as the Hebrides, the Orkneys and Shetland, but in Group VII. ("Of Fairies") England is significantly absent. The arrangement by subjects brings out many resemblances which would otherwise be overlooked. This is particularly noticeable with the set of Bogie songs, the grouping of which does much to emphasize, as it were, their quaint grotesqueness of expression.

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