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Ballad Poem Definition
The word ‘Ballad’ has been derived from the French word ‘Ballare’ meaning ‘to dance’. Fundamentally, “a ballad is a poem that tells a fairly simple story” (narrative). Thus a story is what a ballad trying to convey Ballads are often used in songs & have a musical quality in them.
How Many Stanzas in a Ballad?
Ballad Stanza, the most famous type of ballad has four stanzas. The basic form of the ballad is iambic heptameter (seven sets of unstressed & stressed syllables per line), in sets of four with the second & fourth line rhyming. The rhyme scheme of the ballad is usually abab or aabb.
13 Characteristics of a Ballad
- It is a song that tells a story.
- The beginning is often surprising.
- Its language is simple.
- It concentrates on a single episode.
- The theme is often tragic & sad.
- The story is told through dialogue & action.
- It lacks specific detail.
- It has a surprising ending.
- It includes some sort of repeated lines.
- It has rarely moral.
- It has 4-line stanzas, the first & third lines have four stresses & fourth line has three stresses.
- It has an orientation, complication & resolution.
- It can have a question & answer format. One stanza presents the question & the next stanza answers the question.
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Language in Ballad
- It includes language that focuses on actions & dialogues.
- It includes language that indirectly conveys information about the characters, relationships.
- It is often written in third or first person.
- Generally, abac, aabb, abbc is ballad rhyme scheme.
- It has a regular beat structure.
- It is often written in complete sentences.
- It includes language that conveys a particular mood.
2 Types of Ballad
- Folk Ballads
Folk ballads were originally composed by anonymous singers & were passed down orally from generation to generation before they were written down. The English Folk Ballads we read today took their present form probably in the 15th century.
- Literary Ballads
Literary Ballads are the imitation of the ballad. The difference between the traditional ballad & the literary ballad is that the authors of Traditional Ballads are unknown whereas Literary ballads are composed & written down by known poets usually in the style of folk ballads.
Famous Ballad Poems
- La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats
- Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth
- The Ancient Mariner by ST Coleridge