A ballad is a type of poem that tells the story of someone or something. The term ballad is derived from the word ballade, which comes from the French ballade, meaning “a light song”. The ballad is one of the oldest forms of folk music. The ballad’s origins can be traced back to the Middle Ages. In the 16th century, ballads became popular in England and were used in many types of plays, including mystery plays and morality plays.

History of Ballad

The ballad was a popular form of entertainment in medieval times, and it’s still popular today. Many ballads were written about real people, but most are fictional. Most ballads were written for singing, but some were written for reading, especially when they were used as stories read aloud at bedtime. In the 1700s and 1800s, the ballad became very popular in England, and it was also popular in Scotland and Ireland. Ballads from these countries are called Scotch-Irish or Scottish ballads.

Style of Ballad

Ballads were often written in the traditional style. They usually have a simple melody and a regular meter, such as iambic pentameter or iambic tetrameter. There are many different kinds of ballads. Some are lighthearted love songs; others are satirical, political, or religious. Ballads may be sung to a tune, played on an instrument, or recited.

There is no single definition of what makes a ballad, but it typically has certain characteristics. Ballads are generally shorter than other forms of poetry, and they have a strong narrative structure. They also have a repetitive theme.

Characteristics of a Ballad:

  1. The story is usually about an individual or a small group of people, not about the world as a whole, though it may deal with more than one event in history.
  2. The characters are usually drawn from real life, but the author may invent them.
  3. The story may be based on a true incident, or it may be entirely fictitious.
  4. It is usually told in a sing-song style of language, often with rhyme.
  5. The ballad usually has a definite plot.
  6. It may have a happy ending.
  7. The characters may be divided into good and bad types, and the story may be told from both points of view.
  8. The characters are usually presented in realistic terms, with only a few episodes that seem to be supernatural.
  9. There is usually a moral to the story.
  10. The ballad is usually written in stanzas (songs) of four lines each.

Types of Ballad:

  1. Traditional Ballad: This is the form of the ballad that we know today. It is a song that has been passed down orally over time, and it usually has a simple, repetitive melody with little variation. The melody was likely played on an instrument like the bagpipe, which is known to be the ancestor of the whistle. The ballad’s origins may be older than the song itself.
  2. Literary Ballads: These are poems written by authors to be read aloud or sung. They are often very well-written and may even have original tunes. These ballads are usually longer than traditional ballads and have more words. 

Example of Ballad

An example of a ballad is “Mary Hamilton.” It’s about a young woman who wants to marry a man named James Hamilton, but she has to leave her home because he doesn’t want to marry her. She goes to live with another man and has two children. She and her children end up back in her home town. The third line says that she has two children. The fourth line tells about what happened to Mary after she went away. The last two lines say that she and her children are back home again.