Ballad Definition

A story in a song, usually a narrative song or poem. Any form of story may be told as a ballad (not to be confused with a ballade), ranging from accounts of historical events to fairy tales in verse form. It is usually with foreshortened alternating four- and three-stress lines ('ballad meter') and simple repeating rhymes, and often with a refrain.

A popular kind of narrative poem, adapted for recitation or singing; esp., a sentimental or romantic poem in short stanzas.


A ballad is a type of poem that narrates a story in the form of short stanzas. It is primarily meant to be sung out rather than recited as is the case with most other poems. It is derived from the Latin word “Ballare” which means, “dancing song.”

There are two main types of Ballad. These are the folk or the traditional ballad and the literal ballad. The traditional ballads are those that were developed anonymously in years past and passed down to the subsequent generations orally. As such, they have no written forms and undergo some modifications in each subsequent generation.

The literal ballad, on the other hand, refers to the actual imitations of the traditional ballad. This simply means that they are the written forms, rather than the oral forms, of the traditional ballads. Their authorships are hence known or identifiable in sharp contrast to the case of traditional ballads.

Characteristics of Ballads

Regardless of their nature and types, all ballads display some common characteristics. They contain a refrain that is repeated, employ dialogue, use colloquial language, are short and concise, have abrupt and unexpected openings, and are simple in nature, to mention but a few!

Uses of Ballad

Owing to its sensational nature, the ballad is employed in a number of events and social settings. These mainly include general entertainment, educational settings, and wedding ceremonies. They are mainly employed to convey some information that is relevant to the occasion or event in question. 

Ballad Poem Example

ANNABEL LEE

by Edgar Allan Poe
(1849)

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;--
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
She was a child and I was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love--
I and my Annabel Lee--
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud by night
Chilling my Annabel Lee;
So that her high-born kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me:--
Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of a cloud, chilling
And killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we--
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in Heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:--

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea--
In her tomb by the side of the sea.

Top 5 Ballad Poem Examples

PMPoem TitlePoetFormCategories
Premium Member Poem To Be With You - Bordner, Justin Balladdesire,
Death of the Poet Destroyer A , Poet Destroyer Balladbirth, change, conflict, death,
The Ballad of the Poet A , Poet Destroyer Balladbeauty, death, deep, emo,
The Squirrel A , Poet Destroyer Balladadventure, animal, beautiful, blessing,
Premium Member Poem The Stone O'Leary, Terry Balladbody, death, fantasy, kiss,

Other Ballad Definition

[n] a narrative poem of popular origin
[n] a narrative song with a recurrent refrain


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Synonyms

lay

See Also...

minstrelsy, poem, song, verse form

Misc. Definitions

\Bal"lad\, n. [OE. balade, OF. balade, F. ballade, fr. Pr. ballada a dancing song, fr. ballare to dance; cf. It. ballata. See 2d {Ball}, n., and {Ballet}.] A popular kind of narrative poem, adapted for recitation or singing; as, the ballad of Chevy Chase; esp., a sentimental or romantic poem in short stanzas.
\Bal"lad\, v. i. To make or sing ballads. [Obs.]
\Bal"lad\, v. t. To make mention of in ballads. [Obs.]

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