BALLAD The first ballads grew from an oral tradition, originally to be sung as a dance accompaniment, with the term originating in the Latin and Italian ballare, "to dance." The ballad presented a narrative, a story eventually committed to writing, and may be placed in one of three categories, the folk ballad, the broadside ballad, and the literary ballad. Folk ballads generally remain anonymous, as generations of singers may have contributed to them before their production in written form. Marked by an impersonal tone, most folk ballads contain abrupt beginnings that move directly into action designed to evoke an emotional response from listeners/readers. The broadside ballad appeared in print but remained unsophisticated, used as popular, rather than formal, literature. The literary ballad proved the most sophisticated of the various versions, appeared in later centuries, was written by a recognizable poet, and generally was meant to be read, rather than sung.
The stanza in the ballad's form of four lines (a quatrain) contains alternating eight- and six-syllable lines, rhyming abcb, but the format may vary. An excellent form for a personal lament, some ballads were told from a first-person perspective, such as the one written by Anne Askewe while awaiting execution for heresy in 1546, under the reign of Henry VIII. Popularly called "Ballad from Newgate," Askewe's song represents a mixture of the broadside and literary ballad, its form written and author known. She wrote the words after her final examination in Newgate Prison, in which she was urged to denounce Protestantism for Catholicism in order to save herself. She declined, as she did when asked once again to recant while tied to a stake. She was martyred, burned at the stake, shortly after writing her 14 four-line stanzas of six syllables each. The fifth stanza makes clear her stance:
Faith in the fathers old Obtained rightwiseness, Which make me very bold To fear no world's distress.
One early broadside ballad, "A Winter Campaign," dates to about 1600. It was written by Eochaidh O Heoghusa, an important Irish bardic poet who wanted to relate the hardships of war as experienced by the Irish rebel Hugh Maguire, the poet's major patron. His verse would be translated in the 19th century by the Dubliner James Clarence Mangan. While unreadable by those unfamiliar with the Gaelic tongue, it clearly represents the ballad form, as may be seen in its first of 19 verses:
Fuar liom an adhaighsi dh'Aodh, cuis tuirse truime a ciothbhraon; mo thruaighe sein dar seise, neimh fhuaire na hoidhcheise.
In a more upbeat use of the form, Sir John Suckling wrote the literary ballad "A Ballad, Upon a Wedding,"
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