The Historical Poetics met back in Princeton on December 8, 2012. As usual, we held an open morning session that included graduate students and faculty from Princeton, Rutgers, Columbia, and Penn and a closed session in the afternoon. This meeting inaugurated our year-long focus on ballads, a focus that culminated in the recently published cluster of essays in Nineteenth-Century Literature, edited by Michael Cohen. In the morning we talked about the range of ballads and questioned whether or not “ballad” constituted a genre, a poetic form, or both, and thought about how ballads traveled transatlantically. We read Child, “Ballad Poetry” (1874), Scott, “Introductory Remarks on Popular Poetry” (1830) from the Abbotsford edition of Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border [1802], Hemans, “Casabianca” (1826), Tennyson, “Mariana” (1830), Longfellow, “Wreck of the Hesperus” (1842), Edgar Allan Poe, “Annabel Lee” (1849), Emily Dickinson, something, Frances Child, Robin Hood ballads (1882-1898), and Rudyard Kipling, “Tommy” (1892). In our afternoon private session, we read the introduction and poetry of Macaulay, Lays of Ancient Rome as well as Furnivall and Hales, Intro to Bishop Percy’s Folio Manuscript (1867-68).

Reading list (morning, open session):

Walter Scott, “Introductory Remarks on Popular Poetry” (1830), from the Abbotsford edition of Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (1802)

William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, selections from Lyrical Ballads (1802) “Goody Blake and Harry Gill,” “The Thorn,” “We Are Seven,” “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

Felicia Hemans, “Casabianca” (1826)

Alfred Tennyson, “Mariana” (1830)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Wreck of the Hesperus” (1842) 

Edgar Allan Poe, “Bridal Ballad” (1837), “Ulalume” (1847), “Annabel Lee” (1849)

Walt Whitman, “Boston Ballad” (3 ways:  1856, 60, 67)

Emily Dickinson, F712 “Because I could not stop for death–“

Francis James Child, “Ballad Poetry” (1874)


Child Ballads:

“Lord Randal”

“Barbara Allen”

“Robin Hood and Little John”

“Robin Hood’s Delight”

“Robin Hood and Allen a Dale”

“Robin Hood and Maid Marian”

Rudyard Kipling, “Tommy” (1892)


Additional Texts For the afternoon (closed) session

William Motherwell, “Ancient Ballads of the North of Scotland” (1828)

Thomas Babington Macaulay, Preface to Lays of Ancient Rome (1842)

Frederick E. Furnivall and John W. Hales, Bishop Percy’s Folio Manuscript (1867) “Loose and Humorous Songs” (Introduction)