Poetry Tuesday

Advanced Poetry Lesson: Ballads

Let’s write some poetry!

The next two Tuesdays we’ll be learning about ballads!

walrus and the carpenter
Lewis Carroll’s Walrus and the Carpenter

A. Introduction to Ballads
I love ballads. When I learned about ballads for the first time, I had already been writing them for years without knowing it. They’re regular, repetitive, and musical. Most songs you hear on the radio would be considered a ballad of one kind or another.

     Fun fact: Did you know that rap is actually a contemporary ballad?

B. What is a Ballad?

  1. It often has four lines per group, or stanza. (The example below actually has 6 lines per stanza, and that’s okay too)
  2. The 1st and 3rd line in each stanza has four accents, or stresses
  3. The 2nd and 4th lines have either 3 stresses or 4 stresses, but it needs to be the same throughout the whole poem. (see example below)
  4. Ballads rhyme. Often the 1st and 3rd lines rhyme and the 2nd and 4th lines rhyme. (This is called an ABAB pattern). This is flexible, but again, the pattern needs to be the same throughout the whole poem!
  5. Repetition is important in a ballad. Sometimes a poet will make the last line of each stanza the same.
  6. Ballads often tell some kind of story, often a story about how someone died.
  7. Example of stresses: (Read the capital letters in the lines below a little louder than the other letters.)

The SUN was SHINing ON the SEA
See how there are 4 stresses?
SHINing with ALL its MIGHT
And then 3? 

C. Ballad Example

Walrus and the Carpenter
(lines 1-18), from
Through the Looking Glass

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright —
And this was odd, because it was
 The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done —
“It’s very rude of him,” she said,
“To come and spoil the fun.”

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead —
There were no birds to fly.

Lewis Carroll 

D. Write your ballad!
Are you ready to write your ballad? Great! Come up with your story and write it in verse form, following the guidelines above. If you’re happy with it, remember to share it on my Facebook page or in the comments!

Hungry for more? Check out this week’s…

Poetry Activity (for kids, adults, and everyone in between): Alliteration Poem

Poem Study: Bear in There, by Shel Silverstein

3 thoughts on “Advanced Poetry Lesson: Ballads”

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