Examples of Ballad in Poetry

A four-lined stanza of alternate four stress and three stress lines is called a ballad. Here the readers will be able to know about ballad and examples of ballad in poetry.

Definition of Ballad in Poetry:

Ballad is a poem or song in simple construction which tells a story. These poems are traditional which deal with love, tragedy, violence, war, and travel. The story of the ballad is told in a dialogue and action form.

Ballads are narrative folk songs that often tell a story and take the form of a dialogue between two characters. They were popular in England throughout the Middle Ages and were used to spread news and information. The first printed ballad, “The Song of the Husbandman,” was printed in 1544.

Technique of Writing Ballad

The technique of writing a ballad is different from the other poems. Poets of the nineteenth century started writing artificial ballads that became popular.

Kinds of Ballads:

There are three kinds of ballads.

i. Oral ballads
ii. Broadside ballads
iii. Literary ballads

Oral Ballads:

Oral ballads have different tunes, themes, and techniques. These are impersonal, with little or no comment on the action described.

Broadside ballads:

These ballads are different from oral ballads which deal with the current occasions. They are in printed form with full of sensational events.

Literary ballads:

The writers started writing literary ballads in the twentieth century. In this genre, the ballads of F.J. Child’s English and Scottish became popular. This work created the historical authenticity of oral ballads.

Examples of Ballad in Poetry:

Ballads were particularly characteristic of popular poetry and song of England and Scotland until the 19th century. They were widely used across Europe, but only developed into a literary form in England, later spreading to other countries as part of international folk music traditions. The ballad opera developed as a form of English stage entertainment in the early decades.

‘Poison Tree’ by William Blake

I was angry with my friend
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night.
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.

And into my garden stole,
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see;
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

The overhead poem is in ballad style comprising four lines with four rhymed stanzas.

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by S.T Coleridge

I fear thee, ancient Mariner!
I fear thy skinny hand!
And thou art long, and lank, and brown,
As is the ribbed sea-sand.

I fear thee and thy glittering eye,
And thy skinny hand, so brown.
Fear not, fear not, thou Wedding-Guest!
This body dropt not down.

Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.

The many men, so beautiful!
And they all dead did lie
And a thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I.

I looked upon the rotting sea,
And drew my eyes away,
I looked upon the rotting deck
And there the dead men lay.

La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow,
With anguish moist and fever-dew,
And on thy cheeks, a fading rose
Fast withereth too.

Robin Hood and Allen a Dale by Francis James Child

Come listen to me, you gallants so free,
All you that love mirth for to hear,
And I will tell of a bold outlaw
That lived in Nottinghamshire.

All under the green-wood tree,
There was he ware of a brave young man,
As fine as fine might be.

The youngster was clothed in scarlet red,
In scarlet fine and gay,
And he did frisk it over the plain,
And chanted a roundelay.

As Robin Hood next morning, stood,
Amongst the leaves so gay,
There did he espy the same young man
Coming drooping along the way.

The scarlet he wore the day before,
It was clean cast away;
And every step he fetch a sigh,
Alack and a well a day!

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