- Project Runeberg -  America of the Fifties: Letters of Fredrika Bremer /
142

(1924) [MARC] Author: Fredrika Bremer
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childish, and contain many repetitions both of
phrases and imagery; but frequently, amid all
this, expressions and turns of thought which are
in the highest degree poetical, and with bold and
happy transitions, such as we find in the oldest
songs of our Northern people. These negro songs
are also not uncommonly ballads, or, more properly,
little romances, which contain descriptions of
their love affairs and their simple life’s fate. There
is no imagination, no gloomy background, rich with
saga or legend, as in our songs; but, on the other
hand, much sentiment, and a naïve and often
humorous seizing upon the moment and its circumstances.
These songs have been made on the
road; during the journeyings of the slaves; upon
the rivers, as they paddled their canoes along or
steered the raft down the stream; and, in
particular, at the corn-huskings, which are to the
negroes what the harvest-home is to our peasants,
and at which they sing impromptu whatever is
uppermost in their hearts or in their brain. Yes,
all these songs are peculiarly improvisations, which
have taken root in the mind of the people,
and are listened to and sung to the whites, who,
possessed of a knowledge of music, have caught
and noted them down. And this improvisation
goes forward every day. People hear new songs
continually; they are the offspring of nature and of

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