Journal Entry 1 for the week of September 19 2011 th
The Ballad is narrative form of poetry, which is centered around a main hero who has embarked
on some sort of dramatic adventure. The hero of the ballad is telling his journey, in a dramatized
way. The traditional ballad was orally passed down within a community and was usually sung.
Since each person told the story of the hero differently, the ballad would change with each
person‟s rendition. The author of the traditional ballad often remained anonymous.
The literary ballad “is a narrative poem written in deliberate imitation of the form, language and
spirit of the traditional ballad” (Abrams 22). “Typically, the popular ballad is dramatic,
condensed and impersonal: the narrator begins with the climactic episode, tells the story tersely
in action and dialogue, and tells it without self-reference or the expression of personal attitudes
or feelings” (Abrams 21).
Within a literary ballad, there are often refrains and incremental repetition, as shown in Bonnie
Barbara Allen and as Samuel Taylor Coleridge‟s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. The theme of
the ballad evolves mostly around a heroic adventure, but can express heart break as well such as
John Keat‟s “La Belle Dame sans Merci”.
From Literary Terms: “In most cases, the so-called „popular ballad‟ belongs to the early periods
before written literature was highly developed” (24).
-Written in iambic meter to emulate the natural human speech patterns.
-Alternates between four (tetrameter) and three (trimeter) stresses in each verse line.
-Composed of quatrains with the rhyme scheme ABCB.
-Often told in the third person.
Ballads are composed in many forms: the traditional ballad (also known as popular of folk
ballad), the literary ballad, the lyrical ballad, the broadside ballad, the sentimental ballad, the Opera ballad (emulates the form and content of the traditional and literary ballad) and the Blues
Additional information on Ballads:
-Broadside ballad: a ballad (appearing on one side of a sheet) detailing an event or person. This
ballad would “be sung to a well-known tune” (Abrams 22).
-Some ballads contain “the question and answer format” (Braid & Shreve 21
-Sometimes words will alter (for example in Bonnie Barbara Allen “Barbara” which normally
would have three syllables only has two).
As part of the exercise, my group analyzed Johnny Cash‟s “Ira Hayes”, which is composed of
fifteen quatrains with the rhyme scheme of ABCB, with the exception of the second stanza
AABB. The song contains burden refrains as part of the chorus. “Ira Hayes” follows the
traditional ballad in format, content and spirit, as it is meant to be sung. The ballad is an
important poetic form that remains popular today as it is easy to remember (because of its length
and refrains). Additional note: Ira Hayes contains imperfect rhymes (such as “crops” and
“stopped” in the third stanza).
*Extra exercise: as a group, it would be interesting to create an extra quatrain to one assigned
song, and compare what everyone came up with.
Blank Verse: is a type of poetic form represented in iambic pentameter with no rhyme scheme.
Each line usually has ten syllables however it can vary from nine to eleven.
From Abrams: “Blank Verse consists of lines of iambic pentameter (five-stress iambic
verse) which are unrhymed”. From Literary Terms: “Unrhymed verse, usually with lines of ten syllables each, the second,
fourth, sixth and tenth syllables bearing the accents (iambic pentameter). The form is used
in English dram and poetry”.
This type of poetry is a replica of the human speech and often appears in dramas and
comedies. Originated as dialogues in plays. The blank verse has been noted to become
monotonous therefore it sometimes gets manipulated in order to become more intriguing
(as in the case of William Shakespeare’s work, he added a lot of imagery to his pieces. As
well as John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”- one has to read the entire stanza before pausing.
As a class, we were introduced to:
-A part of Shakespeare’s “A Merchant of Venice”, which is written in blank
verse. Predominantly a religion based story. There was inquiries of whether it was a
tragedy or comedy (concluded that it can be either/or).
-John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”, which was written in blank verse as well. There was
constant enjambment. This poem also contains verse paragraphs which are: “divisions in
blank verse poems, used to set off a sustained passage” (Abrams 29).
- Hart Crane’s “To Brooklyn Bridge” which was considered to be blank verse, despite
having nine and eleven syllables (this allowable when writing in this poetic form).
-Taylor Mali’s “What a Teacher Makes”, which was not written in blank verse since the line
contained 14 syllables. This would be known as free verse (where there is not restriction
on the meter of rhyme used).
-Abrams, M.H., Harpham, Geoffrey Galt. A Glossary of Literary Terms. Boston: Wadsworth
Cengage Learning, 2009. 28-29. Print.
-Literary Terms. Toronto: Indigo Books and Music Inc, 2010. 28. Print. Blues poetry: is derives from African Folk music. Slaves would often sing these rhythmic songs
in order to keep their heads held high and to cheer them up. Blues was usually about despair but
nowadays it‟s about loss of love, melanch