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Aug 30, 2022


Read the following ballad.  

My father has no grown-up son,  
And I have no elder brother.  
I’m willing to buy a horse and saddle,  
To go to battle in my father’s place.”  
She buys a fine steed at the east market;  
A saddle and blanket at the west market;  
A bridle at the south market;  
And a long whip at the north market.  
She takes leave of her parents at dawn,  
To camp beside the Yellow River at dusk.  
No sound of her parents hailing their girl,  
Just the rumbling waters of the Yellow River. 


  • A ballad is a poem or song narrating a story in short stanzas in a simple, rhythmic language. 
  • Ballads tend to be narrative poems that tell stories, as opposed to lyric poems, which emphasize the emotions of the speaker. 
  • Ballads tell us about the time when they were written. 

Characteristics of Ballad:  

  • Ballad is a short story in a verse. 
  • It has a universal appeal. 
  • Use of colloquial language. 
  • Ballad has an abrupt and unexpected opening. 
  • There are no extra details about surroundings. 
  • Dialogue is an important element of a ballad. 
  • Use of ballad stanza. 
  • Use of supernatural elements. 

Types of Ballads  

  1. Literary ballad  
  1. Traditional or folk ballad  
  1. Broadside ballad 

1.Literary ballad  

  • Literary ballad is an imitation of folk ballad.  
  • The only difference between the two ballads is the authorship.   
  • The author of folk ballad may be an unknown personality or common man.  
  • Samuel Coleridge, Wordsworth and John Keats are well known poets of ballad.   
  • John Keat’s “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” is a remarkable ballad of English language. 

2.Traditional or folk ballad  

  • This type of ballad was developed by anonymous poets in ancient times and handed down to the next generations.  
  • It has no written form.  
  • It is a verbal form of poetry.  
  • We can find changes in this type of ballad during the course of time due to altering circumstances and conditions. 

3.Broadside ballad 

  • A broadside is a large sheet of paper printed on one side only.  
  • The broadside ballad refers to ballads which were sold on the streets and at county fairs in Britain from the 16th to 20th centuries.  
  • They were sung to well-known tunes and often dealt with current events, issues or scandals.  
  • The equivalent of contemporary tabloid papers. 

How to Recognize a Ballad:  

  • A ballad must be a narrative. 
  • Impersonal in tone. 
  • Written in stanza of four lines in which the first and third consist of 8 syllables each and the second and fourth consist of 6 syllable each. 

Structure of Ballad  

A ballad has the following structure. 

  • ABCB or ABAB rhyme scheme is maintained  
  • It generally takes the form of quatrain form or four-lined stanzas. 
  • The first and third lines are written in iambic tetrameter. 
  • The second and fourth lines are in the trimester. 
  • Narrative poetic form. 
  • On some occasions it is sung as a song 


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