In the symbolic language of ballads, a lady's costly dress tells of the beauty of the body beneath it or of the wearer's happiness; a lost hawk or hound foreshadows the hunter's fate long before the plot reaches a turning point. In her original and far-reaching study of such familiar narrative elements, Edith Randam Rogers adds much to our understanding of poetic expression in the ballad tradition.
In focusing on individual motifs as they appear in different ballads, different languages, and different periods, Rogers proves the existence of a reliable lingua franca of symbolism in European balladry. Lines or even whole stanzas that have defied interpretation often come to life when the reader is aware of the meaning of a particular motif in such an international vocabulary of images. Thus this book makes available important new critical tools sure to have significant results for ballad scholarship.
""A considerable achievement in the use of the comparative method in the study of traditional folk balladry" -- Choice." --