Wee Wee Man, The [Child 38]
DESCRIPTION: The singer meets a "wee wee man," who, despite his size, proves amazingly strong. He takes the singer on a tour to his home, and shows him the finest ladies he has ever seen -- but then disappears.
EARLIEST DATE: 1776 (Herd)
KEYWORDS: magic home
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland) US(SE,So)
REFERENCES (24 citations):
Child 38, "The Wee Wee Man" (7 texts)
Bronson 38, "The Wee Wee Man" (1 version)
Chambers-ScottishBallads, pp. 260-261, "The Wee Wee Man" (1 text)
Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume1 72, "The Wee Wee Man" (1 text)
Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume2 101, "A Fairie Sang" (1 text)
Bell-Combined-EarlyBallads-CustomsBalladsSongsPeasantryEngland, pp. 188-189, "The Wee Wee Man" (1 text)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore2 11, "The Wee, Wee Man" (1 text)
Randolph/Legman-RollMeInYourArms II, pp. 587-588, "The Wee Wee Man" (2 texts, one of them the Brown version)
Leach-TheBalladBook, pp. 135-136, "The Wee Wee Man" (1 text)
Quiller-Couch-OxfordBookOfBallads 11, "The Wee Wee Man" (1 text)
Grigson-PenguinBookOfBallads 11, "The Wee Wee Man" (1 text)
Gummere-OldEnglishBallads, pp. 293-294+362, "The Wee Wee Man" (1 text)
Montgomerie/Montgomerie-ScottishNurseryRhymes 198, "(The Wee, Wee Man)" (1 text)
Whitelaw-BookOfScottishBallads, p. 462, "The Wee Wee Man" (1 text)
DT 38, WEEWEEMN
ADDITIONAL: Emily Lyle, _Fairies and Folk: Approaches to the Scottish Ballad Tradition_, Wissenschaflicher Verlag Trier, 2007, pp. 40-41, "A New Scotch Song" (1 text plus a print of part of the broadside containing it; also assorted excerpts)
Karin Boklund-Lagopolou, _I have a yong suster: Popular song and Middle English lyric_, Four Courts Press, 2002, pp. 150-151, "(The Wee Wee Man)" (1 text)
Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; #315, "The Wee Wee Man" (1 text)
RELATED: Thomas of Ercildoune's Prophest/As I yode on a Monday between Wyltinden and Walle (Child's Appendix)
Ritson-AncientSongsBalladsFromHenrySecondToTheRevolution, pp. 35-44, "A Ballad on the Scottish Wars" (1 text)
MANUSCRIPT: London, British Library, MS. Cotton Julius A.V, folio 180
COMPARE: Thomas of Ercildoun'e Prophecy (IMEV #365, DIMEV #620), not cited by Child
NOTES [258 words]: Carterhaugh, also mentioned as the site of magic in "Tam Lin," "is a plain at the confluence of the Ettrick and Yarrow in Selkirkshire" (Scott).
Child prints as an appendix to this ballad the poem "Als Y Yod on ay Mounday," found in a single copy in British Museum MS. Cotton Julius A.v, dated firmly to the fourteenth century (another part of the document has a reference to the year 1307). The same text is found in Boklund-Lagopolou, pp. 148-150. The relationship between the two is curious in a number of ways. There is no doubt that the two items go back to the same folkloric roots -- but "Wee Wee Man" seems to be purely Scottish, and "Als Y Yod" is in a very difficult Northumbrian dialect.
Fowler, p. 279 n. 15, describes the Cotton manuscript, which is a curious mix of history (Robert of Brunne's chronicle) and magic (two sets of prophecies of Merlin plus "Als Y Yod," which is followed by additional prophecies), then a French tale, "Longespée taken by the Saracens."
E. B. Lyle, in "The Wee Wee Man and Als Y Yod on y Mounday" (reprinted in LyleBallad), examines the nature of the parallels between the two, but does not reach any clear conclusions. Her suggestion is that both derive from some lost proto-romance does not strike me as compelling, though it is certainly possible.
Lyle revisited the topic in a section in LyleFairies, pp. 36-43. This attempts to classify the known versions of "The Wee Wee Man" and group them in families. It also includes, on p. 38, a useful table of parallels between the ballad and "Als Y Yod." - RBW
Last updated in version 5.2
- Boklund-Lagopolou: Karin Boklund-Lagopolou, I have a yong suster: Popular song and Middle English lyric, Four Courts Press, 2002
- Fowler: David C. Fowler, A Literary History of the Popular Ballad, Duke University Press, 1968
- LyleBallad: E. B. Lyle, ed., Ballad Studies, Rowman & Littlefield, 1976
- LyleFairies: Emily Lyle, Fairies and Folk: Approaches to the Scottish Ballad Tradition, Wissenschaflicher Verlag Trier, 2007
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