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Best Famous Ballad Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Ballad poems. This is a select list of the best famous Ballad poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Ballad poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of ballad poems.

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Written by Sir Henry Newbolt | |

A Ballad of John Nicholson

 It fell in the year of Mutiny, 
At darkest of the night, 
John Nicholson by Jal?ndhar came, 
On his way to Delhi fight.
And as he by Jal?ndhar came, He thought what he must do, And he sent to the Rajah fair greeting, To try if he were true.
"God grant your Highness length of days, And friends when need shall be; And I pray you send your Captains hither, That they may speak with me.
" On the morrow through Jal?ndhar town The Captains rode in state; They came to the house of John Nicholson, And stood before the gate.
The chief of them was Mehtab Singh, He was both proud and sly; His turban gleamed with rubies red, He held his chin full high.
He marked his fellows how they put Their shoes from off their feet; "Now wherefore make ye such ado These fallen lords to greet? "They have ruled us for a hundred years, In truth I know not how, But though they be fain of mastery They dare not claim it now.
" Right haughtily before them all The durbar hall he trod, With rubies red his turban gleamed, His feet with pride were shod.
They had not been an hour together, A scanty hour or so, When Mehtab Singh rose in his place And turned about to go.
Then swiftly came John Nicholson Between the door and him, With anger smouldering in his eyes, That made the rubies dim.
"You are over-hasty, Mehtab Singh," -- Oh, but his voice was low! He held his wrath with a curb of iron That furrowed cheek and brow.
"You are over-hasty, Mehtab Singh, When that the rest are gone, I have a word that may not wait To speak with you alone.
" The Captains passed in silence forth And stood the door behind; To go before the game was played Be sure they had no mind.
But there within John Nicholson Turned him on Mehtab Singh, "So long as the soul is in my body You shall not do this thing.
"Have ye served us for a hundred years And yet ye know not why? We brook no doubt of our mastery, We rule until we die.
"Were I the one last Englishman Drawing the breath of life, And you the master-rebel of all That stir this land to strife -- "Were I," he said, "but a Corporal, And you a Rajput King, So long as the soul was in my body You should not do this thing.
"Take off, take off, those shoes of pride, Carry them whence they came; Your Captains saw your insolence, And they shall see your shame.
" When Mehtab Singh came to the door His shoes they burned his hand, For there in long and silent lines He saw the Captains stand.
When Mehtab Singh rode from the gate His chin was on his breast: The captains said, "When the strong command Obedience is best.
"


Written by Majeed Amjad | |

A Twinkle in Her Eyes

Who can say

Why her eyes,

Those playmates of the hamlet where Beauty dwells,

Why her eyes smile that way ?

 

When notes arising from her soul,

That Temple-Palace of Music,

And traipsing through the land of glad tidings,

Mirthfully smothering the tinkling of their anklets,

Tip toe up, haltingly, secretively,

To the gates of her lips,

Why her gaze sparkles and smiles ?

 

Leaping over islands of silence

And wastelands of sealed lip pining,

When the silhouettes of desire

Come waltzing in

To nestle in an intimate moment’s nest,

Why her gaze sparkles and smiles ?

 

Her soul, that Sprite-Princess,

Neither lifts her veil

Nor voices her song

And when her heart’s ballad

Passes through distant, unexplored worlds

As the faint, lingering sounds of a flute …

Why her gaze sparkles and smiles !


Written by | |

Ballade: In Favour Of Those Called Decadents And Symbolists Translation of Paul Verlaines Poem: Ballade

for Léon Vanier*

(The texts I use for my translations are from: Yves-Alain Favre, Ed.
Paul Verlaine: Œuvres Poétiques Complètes.
Paris: Robert Laffont,1992, XCIX-939p.
) Some few in all this Paris: We live off pride, yet flat broke we’re Even if with the bottle a bit too free We drink above all fresh water Being very sparing when taken with hunger.
With other fine fare and wines of high-estate Likewise with beauty: sour-tempered never.
We are the writers of good taste.
Phoebé when all the cats gray be Highly sharpened to a point much harsher Our bodies nourrished by glory Hell licks its lips and in ambush does cower And with his dart Phoebus pierces us ever The night cradling us through dreamy waste Strewn with seeds of peach beds over.
We are the writers of good taste.
A good many of the best minds rally Holding high Man’s standard: toffee-nosed scoffer And Lemerre* retains with success poetry’s destiny.
More than one poet then helter-skelter Sought to join the rest through the narrow fissure; But Vanier at the very end made haste The only lucky one to assume the rôle of Fisher*.
We are the writers of good taste.
ENVOI Even if our stock exchange tends to dither Princes hold sway: gentle folk and the divining caste.
Whatever one might say or pours forth the preacher, We are the writers of good taste.
*One of Verlaine’s publishers who first published his near-collected works at 19, quai Saint-Michel, Paris-V.
* Alphonse Lemerre (1838-1912) , one of Verlaine’s publishers at 47, Passage Choiseul, Paris, where from 1866 onwards the Parnassians met regularly.
*Vanier first specialised in articles for fishing as a sport.
© T.
Wignesan – Paris,2013


More great poems below...

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | |

THE YOUTH AND THE MILLSTREAM.

 [This sweet Ballad, and the one entitled The 
Maid of the Mill's Repentance, were written on the occasion of a 
visit paid by Goethe to Switzerland.
The Maid of the Mill's Treachery, to which the latter forms the sequel, was not written till the following year.
] YOUTH.
SAY, sparkling streamlet, whither thou Art going! With joyous mien thy waters now Are flowing.
Why seek the vale so hastily? Attend for once, and answer me! MILLSTREAM.
Oh youth, I was a brook indeed; But lately My bed they've deepen'd, and my speed Swell'd greatly, That I may haste to yonder mill.
And so I'm full and never still.
YOUTH.
The mill thou seekest in a mood Contented, And know'st not how my youthful blood 'S tormented.
But doth the miller's daughter fair Gaze often on thee kindly there? MILLSTREAM.
She opes the shutters soon as light Is gleaming; And comes to bathe her features bright And beaming.
So full and snow-white is her breast,-- I feel as hot as steam suppress'd.
YOUTH.
If she in water can inflame Such ardour, Surely, then, flesh and blood to tame Is harder.
When once is seen her beauteous face, One ever longs her steps to trace.
MILLSTREAM.
Over the wheel I, roaring, bound, All-proudly, And ev'ry spoke whirls swiftly round, And loudly.
Since I have seen the miller's daughter, With greater vigour flows the water.
YOUTH.
Like others, then, can grief, poor brook, Oppress thee? "Flow on!"--thus she'll, with smiling look, Address thee.
With her sweet loving glance, oh say, Can she thy flowing current stay? MILLSTREAM.
'Tis sad, 'tis sad to have to speed From yonder; I wind, and slowly through the mead Would wander; And if the choice remain'd with me, Would hasten back there presently.
YOUTH.
Farewell, thou who with me dost prove Love's sadness! Perchance some day thou'lt breathe of love And gladness.
Go, tell her straight, and often too, The boy's mute hopes and wishes true.
1797.


Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | |

THE FAITHLESS BOY.

 THERE was a wooer blithe and gay,

A son of France was he,--
Who in his arms for many a day,

As though his bride were she,
A poor young maiden had caress'd,
And fondly kiss'd, and fondly press'd,

And then at length deserted.
When this was told the nut-brown maid, Her senses straightway fled; She laugh'd and wept, and vow'd and pray'd, And presently was dead.
The hour her soul its farewell took, The boy was sad, with terror shook, Then sprang upon his charger.
He drove his spurs into his side, And scour'd the country round; But wheresoever he might ride, No rest for him was found.
For seven long days and nights he rode, It storm'd, the waters overflow'd, It bluster'd, lighten'd, thunder'd.
On rode he through the tempest's din, Till he a building spied; In search of shelter crept he in, When he his steed had tied.
And as he groped his doubtful way, The ground began to rock and sway,-- He fell a hundred fathoms.
When he recover'd from the blow, He saw three lights pass by; He sought in their pursuit to go, The lights appear'd to fly.
They led his footsteps all astray, Up, down, through many a narrow way Through ruin'd desert cellars.
When lo! he stood within a hall, With hollow eyes.
and grinning all; They bade him taste the fare.
A hundred guests sat there.
He saw his sweetheart 'midst the throng, Wrapp'd up in grave-clothes white and long; She turn'd, and----* 1774.
(* This ballad is introduced in Act II.
of Claudine of Villa Bella, where it is suddenly broken off, as it is here.
)


Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | |

THE KING OF THULE.*

 (* This ballad is also introduced in Faust, 
where it is sung by Margaret.
) IN Thule lived a monarch, Still faithful to the grave, To whom his dying mistress A golden goblet gave.
Beyond all price he deem'd it, He quaff'd it at each feast; And, when he drain'd that goblet, His tears to flow ne'er ceas'd.
And when he felt death near him, His cities o'er he told, And to his heir left all things, But not that cup of gold.
A regal banquet held he In his ancestral ball, In yonder sea-wash'd castle, 'Mongst his great nobles all.
There stood the aged reveller, And drank his last life's-glow,-- Then hurl'd the holy goblet Into the flood below.
He saw it falling, filling, And sinking 'neath the main, His eyes then closed for ever, He never drank again.
1774.


Written by Ellis Parker Butler | |

The Ballad Of A Bachelor

 Listen, ladies, while I sing
The ballad of John Henry King.
John Henry was a bachelor, His age was thirty-three or four.
Two maids for his affection vied, And each desired to be his bride, And bravely did they strive to bring Unto their feet John Henry King.
John Henry liked them both so well, To save his life he could not tell Which he most wished to be his bride, Nor was he able to decide.
Fair Kate was jolly, bright, and gay, And sunny as a summer day; Marie was kind, sedate, and sweet, With gentle ways and manners neat.
Each was so dear that John confessed He could not tell which he liked best.
He studied them for quite a year, And still found no solution near, And might have studied two years more Had he not, walking on the shore, Conceived a very simple way Of ending his prolonged delay-- A way in which he might decide Which of the maids should be his bride.
He said, "I'll toss into the air A dollar, and I'll toss it fair; If heads come up, I'll wed Marie; If tails, fair Kate my bride shall be.
" Then from his leather pocket-book A dollar bright and new he took; He kissed one side for fair Marie, The other side for Kate kissed he.
Then in a manner free and fair He tossed the dollar in the air.
"Ye fates," he cried, "pray let this be A lucky throw indeed for me!" The dollar rose, the dollar fell; He watched its whirling transit well, And off some twenty yards or more The dollar fell upon the shore.
John Henry ran to where it struck To see which maiden was in luck.
But, oh, the irony of fate! Upon its edge the coin stood straight! And there, embedded in the sand, John Henry let the dollar stand! And he will tempt his fate no more, But live and die a bachelor.
Thus, ladies, you have heard me sing The ballad of John Henry King.


Written by Gerard Manley Hopkins | |

Repeat That Repeat

 Repeat that, repeat,
Cuckoo, bird, and open ear wells, heart-springs, delightfully sweet,
With a ballad, with a ballad, a rebound 
Off trundled timber and scoops of the hillside ground, hollow hollow hollow ground:
The whole landscape flushes on a sudden at a sound.


Written by G K Chesterton | |

A Ballad Of Suicide

 The gallows in my garden, people say,

Is new and neat and adequately tall; 
I tie the noose on in a knowing way

As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours—on the wall— 
Are drawing a long breath to shout "Hurray!"

The strangest whim has seized me.
.
.
.
After all I think I will not hang myself to-day.
To-morrow is the time I get my pay— My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall— I see a little cloud all pink and grey— Perhaps the rector's mother will not call— I fancy that I heard from Mr.
Gall That mushrooms could be cooked another way— I never read the works of Juvenal— I think I will not hang myself to-day.
The world will have another washing-day; The decadents decay; the pedants pall; And H.
G.
Wells has found that children play, And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall, Rationalists are growing rational— And through thick woods one finds a stream astray So secret that the very sky seems small— I think I will not hang myself to-day.
ENVOI Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal, The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way; Even to-day your royal head may fall, I think I will not hang myself to-day


Written by G K Chesterton | |

The Ballad of the Anti-Puritan

 They spoke of Progress spiring round, 
Of light and Mrs Humphrey Ward-- 
It is not true to say I frowned, 
Or ran about the room and roared; 
I might have simply sat and snored-- 
I rose politely in the club 
And said, `I feel a little bored; 
Will someone take me to a pub?' 

The new world's wisest did surround 
Me; and it pains me to record 
I did not think their views profound, 
Or their conclusions well assured; 
The simple life I can't afford, 
Besides, I do not like the grub-- 
I want a mash and sausage, `scored'-- 
Will someone take me to a pub? 

I know where Men can still be found, 
Anger and clamorous accord, 
And virtues growing from the ground, 
And fellowship of beer and board, 
And song, that is a sturdy cord, 
And hope, that is a hardy shrub, 
And goodness, that is God's last word-- 
Will someone take me to a pub? 

Envoi 
Prince, Bayard would have smashed his sword 
To see the sort of knights you dub-- 
Is that the last of them--O Lord 
Will someone take me to a pub?


Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Ballad of Dead Friends

 As we the withered ferns 
By the roadway lying, 
Time, the jester, spurns 
All our prayers and prying -- 
All our tears and sighing, 
Sorrow, change, and woe -- 
All our where-and-whying 
For friends that come and go.
Life awakes and burns, Age and death defying, Till at last it learns All but Love is dying; Love's the trade we're plying, God has willed it so; Shrouds are what we're buying For friends that come and go.
Man forever yearns For the thing that's flying.
Everywhere he turns, Men to dust are drying, -- Dust that wanders, eying (With eyes that hardly glow) New faces, dimly spying For friends that come and go.
ENVOY And thus we all are nighing The truth we fear to know: Death will end our crying For friends that come and go.


Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Ballad of Broken Flutes

 In dreams I crossed a barren land, 
A land of ruin, far away; 
Around me hung on every hand 
A deathful stillness of decay; 
And silent, as in bleak dismay 
That song should thus forsaken be, 
On that forgotten ground there lay 
The broken flutes of Arcady.
The forest that was all so grand When pipes and tabors had their sway Stood leafless now, a ghostly band Of skeletons in cold array.
A lonely surge of ancient spray Told of an unforgetful sea, But iron blows had hushed for aye The broken flutes of Arcady.
No more by summer breezes fanned, The place was desolate and gray; But still my dream was to command New life into that shrunken clay.
I tried it.
Yes, you scan to-day, With uncommiserating glee, The songs of one who strove to play The broken flutes of Arcady.
ENVOY So, Rock, I join the common fray, To fight where Mammon may decree; And leave, to crumble as they may, The broken flutes of Arcady.


Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Ballad of a Ship

 Down by the flash of the restless water 
The dim White Ship like a white bird lay; 
Laughing at life and the world they sought her, 
And out she swung to the silvering bay.
Then off they flew on their roystering way, And the keen moon fired the light foam flying Up from the flood where the faint stars play, And the bones of the brave in the wave are lying.
'T was a king's fair son with a king's fair daughter, And full three hundred beside, they say, -- Revelling on for the lone, cold slaughter So soon to seize them and hide them for aye; But they danced and they drank and their souls grew gay, Nor ever they knew of a ghoul's eye spying Their splendor a flickering phantom to stray Where the bones of the brave in the wave are lying.
Through the mist of a drunken dream they brought her (This wild white bird) for the sea-fiend's prey: The pitiless reef in his hard clutch caught her, And hurled her down where the dead men stay.
A torturing silence of wan dismay -- Shrieks and curses of mad souls dying -- Then down they sank to slumber and sway Where the bones of the brave in the wave are lying.
ENVOY Prince, do you sleep to the sound alway Of the mournful surge and the sea-birds' crying? -- Or does love still shudder and steel still slay, Where the bones of the brave in the wave are lying?


Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Ballad by the Fire

 Slowly I smoke and hug my knee, 
The while a witless masquerade 
Of things that only children see 
Floats in a mist of light and shade: 
They pass, a flimsy cavalcade, 
And with a weak, remindful glow, 
The falling embers break and fade, 
As one by one the phantoms go.
Then, with a melancholy glee To think where once my fancy strayed, I muse on what the years may be Whose coming tales are all unsaid, Till tongs and shovel, snugly laid Within their shadowed niches, grow By grim degrees to pick and spade, As one by one the phantoms go.
But then, what though the mystic Three Around me ply their merry trade? -- And Charon soon may carry me Across the gloomy Stygian glade? -- Be up, my soul! nor be afraid Of what some unborn year may show; But mind your human debts are paid, As one by one the phantoms go.
ENVOY Life is the game that must be played: This truth at least, good friend, we know; So live and laugh, nor be dismayed As one by one the phantoms go.


Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox | |

Last Love

 The first flower of the spring is not so fair 
Or bright, as one the ripe midsummer brings.
The first faint note the forest warbler sings Is not as rich with feeling, or so rare As when, full master of his art, the air Drowns in the liquid sea of song he flings Like silver spray from beak, and breast, and wings.
The artist's earliest effort wrought with care, The bard's first ballad, written in his tears, Set by his later toil seems poor and tame.
And into nothing dwindles at the test.
So with the passions of maturer years Let those who will demand the first fond flame, Give me the heart's last love, for that is best.