Great American Folklore: Legends, Tales, Ballads, and Superstitions from All Across America, compiled by Kemp P. Battle, 3/5
I understand the need to document and collect traditional stories to preserve them for posterity, but if there is a way to do so while also creating a good reading experience, the editor of this volume has not discovered it. Most of these tales clearly belong to an oral tradition, so it feels strange to encounter them stripped of their correct community context, not to mention the awkward (potentially racist) attempts to convey vernacular in prose.
Why I read it: Somehow it ended up in my to-read pile, though I can’t remember where or when I acquired it.
This exercise was to finish the ballad, the first two verses of which were provided.
Now gather round and let me tell
The tale of Danny Wise:
And how his sweet wife Annabelle
Did suck out both his eyes.
And if I tell the story true
And if I tell it clear
There’s not a mortal one of you
Won’t shriek in mortal fear.
Now Annabell and Danny had
Been married just a year
Life was good and nothing bad
Had made them shed a tear.
Until she large with child got
And had a terrible thirst,
And everything to drink she bought
Just only made it worse.
Her throat had never been so dry
A cure she could not seek
Then dripped a tear from Danny’s eye
As he kissed her on the cheek.
Each day, she drank them more and more –
Danny’s sweet, hot tears
The which he freely gave her for
His unborn child, so dear.
And when she gave to him a son,
Dan with joy was filled
And thought his cup was over-run,
Which ne’er before had spilled.
Alas, but it was not to be,
The tiny child died
And soon, poor Danny couldn’t see –
So much he wept and cried.
Annabelle, though broke with grief
Could not contain her thirst
And of his eyes became a thief –
She drank them ’til they burst.