Poetry 101 – How to Write a Ballad

A series of posts about poetry 101

Ballad Poetry

A ballad is the retelling of an historical event, current event or even an everyday
event as an epic and swashbuckling poem that will make us experience a lot of
emotional charge. A  ballad is telling a story in poetry  format.

Each verse will consist of four lines A ballad usually has a refrain, this is a phrase that is repeated throughout
the poem. The refrain can place emphases and add to the storytelling of the ballad.

Dinner Time
Oh, woe is me, my dinner’s late
and that will never do.
For when his Lordship comes home from school
his mouth will surely drool

The spuds did burn, and chicken spit
and in truth I tried to run away
‘But no,’ I said, t’would never do
For dinner must be made

Oh, woe is me, my dinner’s late
and that will never do.
For one simply ought to know
how to peel and bake

But all I know is how to read and
tear strips off the shed. For, in truth
I’d rather be outside,
playing in the dirt with Fred.

Oh, woe is me my dinner’s late
and that will never do.
I suppose a worm pie might feed this lot
And I can lie here, hiding in the cot.

by Michelle Moloney King

A ballad can be sunny, silly, fun, it can rhyme or not. A ballad can have a refrain, or not.

Another example –

I Often Contradict Myself

I often contradict myself.
Oh no, I never do.
I argue with me day and night.
That simply isn’t true.

Oh yes it is. Oh no it’s not.
I do this all day long.
Oh no I don’t. Oh yes I do.
That’s right. No way! It’s wrong.

I’m really quite agreeable.
I argue night and day.
I love to be around myself.
I wish I’d go away.

So if you see me arguing,
it’s certain that you won’t.
I like to contradict myself.
I promise you I don’t.

by Kenn Nesbitt

Extra ballad information
The ballad usually has the rhyming of ABCB. This means that the first and fourth line will rhyme but the
second and fourth will not rhyme.

The first and third line must have eight syllables. The second and fourth line must have six syllables. This is
know as the Iambic rhythm. Using iambic rhythm you should be able to clap out your the syllables to
deDUM deDUM deDUM deDUM.

Some poetry advice, examples, and tips aimed at primary school teachers to be used as a resource.

Published by Michelle Moloney King

Bookish and paintish! Mother, wife, teacher, and follower of flow.

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