Sunday, 4 August 2013

Bards and Minstrels, Custodians of Oral History

I have an encyclopedia entry to write this month.  So I need to devote some time to planning what I want to say, and take steps to make it just a little less Anglo-Scottish centric.

But tonight is a glorious sunny evening!  I think I can just about justify sitting outside with Walter Scott's The Lay of the Last Minstrel.  Interestingly, this 'last minstrel' is a different one from the Welsh 18th century 'last bard' who was the subject of the English Thomas Gray's poem, The Bard, and different again from James Beattie's Scottish The Minstrel (1771-4) or the rebellious anti-English minstrel that we find in late 18th and early 19th century Ireland, immortalised in song by Thomas Moore.  This I find absolutely fascinating.  

I'd dearly love to read for a Masters in Gothic and nineteenth century literature, but it's not going to happen in the near or medium future!  I'd like a Masters in creative writing, too, but having self-financed a part-time PhD between 2004-2009, I think maybe I should be content that I am, finally, a Doctor, and leave other degree study plans for my distant retirement!  After all, further study in such different directions would drain any time I have for pursuing the subject in which I've already gained expertise - the collecting of Scottish song and fiddle tunes.

I'm sure you'll agree, meanwhile, that Sir Walter Scott is a more than worthy addition to my gallery of ghosts - along with my minstrel gallery!  So we'll see where this avenue leads, and I'll make sure I've read it before my trip to Abbotsford with the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in a couple of weeks' time.

Post Script: Oh dear me, I've just stumbled across William Blake's watercolours for the poems of Thomas Gray, with a beautiful bard picture!  I just may have to get a copy!  And those wicked people at Amazon have just tempted me with posters from the Bridgeman image library, too.  Oh dear!

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