English, Department of


Date of this Version



1919 Author(s)


PMLA, Vol. 34, No. 3 (1919), pp. 360-400


It is the purpose of the following paper to examine the relationship of the mediceval ballad to the dance, in origin and in traditional usage. Particular reference is had to the English and Scottish ballad tvpe. In various preceding papers 1 I have considered the theory currently accepted in America of the inseparableness of primitive dance, music, and song and have shown that primitive song is not narrative in character. I have also questioned the assumption that the ballad is the archetypal poetic form- this position should be assigned to the song, not the ballad -and the assumption of " communal " as against individual authorship for the English and Scottish popular ballads. The present paper examines the relation to the dance of the English and Scottish ballads. The view is widely accepted both in the Old World and in America that this, and sinlilar ballad types, originated in the dance. The following paper canvasses the evidence for this view and makes inquiry as to its validity.