Ballad Upon a wedding A

published in 1646, but it was based on a popular folk ballad already existent as the song "I tell thee Dick," a phrase Suckling adopted in his first line. He uses a six-line format for each stanza, with an aabccb rhyme scheme. The marriage celebrated was likely that of Lord Lovelace to Anne Wentworth in 1638, the "Dick" being Richard Lovelace. Many of the 22 verses describe the bride, with others relating details about the food served at the celebration. The humor introduced at the bride's expense remains good humor, supporting the festive tone of the happy event, as stanza 9 demonstrates:

He would have kissed her once or twice, But she would not, she was so nice, She should not do't in sight, And then she looked as who should say, I will do what I list today;

And you shall do't at night.

The ballad form later helped to celebrate Lady Grisell Baillie, a Scottish poet who fled Scotland for Utrecht in the 17th century with her Jacobite father, managed all the family affairs, and later risked her life to return to Scotland for her sister. Although most of her daybooks in which she used poetry to describe the family exploits were later lost, her ballad "Were na My Heart Licht I Wad Die" is believed to have been from the lost book. A broadside ballad, published anonymously in 1726, it is spoken in heavy dialect by a young maid who loved Johnny, but Johnny's family felt her beneath his rank and interfered in their romance, as attested to by the sixth verse:

They said I had neither cow nor calf, Nor dribbles o' drink rins through the draff, Nor pickles o' meal rins through the mill-eye; And were na my heart Licht, I wad die.

A prime example from the late 18th century of the literary ballad stanza may be seen in Samuel Coleridge's enduring The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798):

Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.

Ballads proved especially suitable to stories of war. While much of Robert Southey's poetry appeared in the 19th century, his literary ballad "The Battle of Blenheim" was published in 1798. He added two lines to each stanza, for a total of six lines, but adhered to the traditional ballad rhythm. Southey selected the form to demonstrate the parallel between Marlborough's 1704 victory and the British war against France in his own age, as his ninth verse demonstrates:

They say it was a shocking sight

After the field was won,

For many thousand bodies here

Lay rotting in the sun;

But things like that, you know, must be

After a famous victory.

Anonymous ballads including "Bonny Barbara Allan" and "Sir Patrick Spens" remained popular over centuries. Oxford University's Bodleian Library makes available online to researchers a collection of more than 30,000 ballads, most of which are broadsides, dating from the 16th to the 20th century.

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