Thursday, June 2, 2022

Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather, by Sarah Pinsker

Uncanny Magazine, March 2021

The form of this story is the comments on a site called "Lyricsplainer," discussing the lyrics and history of a folk song called, "Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather."

It appears to be a tragic romantic ballad, about a pair called Fair Ellen, and William. There is debate about what "fair" means with reference to Ellen. William might be the butcher's son, or he might have stolen something from the butcher's son, or he might be named William Butcher. Commenters make suggestions, downrate each other's suggestions, occasionally the moderator steps in.

Some of them are doing research elsewhere. One of the points of interest is a previous commenter, who went off to visit a likely location for the original story, but hasn't been heard from in a year.

The more they learn, or think they learn, the creepier it gets. Very absorbing, and quite well done.


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