An overview by Addy Tyson

Overview/History of Ballad

"Centuries-old in practice, the composition of ballads began in the European folk tradition, in many cases accompanied by musical instruments. Ballads were not originally transcribed, but rather preserved orally for generations, passed along through recitation. Their subject matter dealt with religious themes, love, tragedy, domestic crimes, and sometimes even political propaganda."

Purpose of a Ballad (Why are these types of poems written?)

"It is a narrative poem that has a musical rhythm and can be sung. A ballad is usually organized into quatrains or cinquains, has a simple rhythm structure, and tells the tales of ordinary people."

Characteristics of a Ballad (How can you and your peers identify it?)

"The format of the classic Ballad stanza or verse is as follows:
  • The second and fourth lines of each stanza rhyme
  • Line one has 8 beats
  • Line two has 6 beats
  • Line three has 8 beats..."

Example of Ballad

"The Mermaid
Author Unknown

'Twas Friday morn when we set sail,
And we had not got far from land,
When the Captain, he spied a lovely mermaid,
With a comb and a glass in her hand.

Oh the ocean waves may roll,
And the stormy winds may blow,
While we poor sailors go skipping aloft
And the land lubbers lay down below, below, below
And the land lubbers lay down below.

Then up spoke the Captain of our gallant ship,
And a jolly old Captain was he;
"I have a wife in Salem town,
But tonight a widow she will be."


Then up spoke the Cook of our gallant ship,
And a greasy old Cook was he;
"I care more for my kettles and my pots,
Than I do for the roaring of the sea."


Then up spoke the Cabin-boy of our gallant ship,
And a dirty little brat was he;
"I have friends in Boston town
That don't care a ha' penny for me."


Then three times 'round went our gallant ship,
And three times 'round went she,
And the third time that she went 'round
She sank to the bottom of the sea.


Works Cited

Answers. Answers Corporation, n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.

"Elements of Poetry." Elements of Poetry. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2014.

"The Mermaid." The Mermaid. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.