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DEFINITION: A ballad tells a story, using rhyme to establish a regular cadence. The plot-driven poem has characters and rich imagery to show the narrative.ORIGIN: Began in European folk tradition. Originally orally shared until much later in the 15th-17th centuries when they were written down. Ballads often spoke of love, crime, social issues, and tragedy.
LINES: No establish number of lines.
RHYME PATTERN: Tends to be alternating line rhymes, but it is common to see AABB within the rhyme pattern.
OTHER NOTES: Lines may contain only a handful of stresses.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” begins:
It is an ancient mariner
And he stoppeth one of three.
—“By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stoppest thou me?
The bridegroom’s doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
Mayst hear the merry din.”
He holds him with his skinny hand,
“There was a ship,“ quoth he.
“Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!”
Eftsoons his hand dropped he.