Ballad

The ballad is a narrative meant to be sung, usually composed inthe ballad stanza. Although some ballads are carefully crafted poems written by literate authors and meant to be read silently (such as those in Lyrical Ballads by Wordsworth and Coleridge), the folk ballad (or popular ballad, or traditional ballad) is derived from the oral tradition.

Two of the most important collections of ballads are Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, collected by the eighteenth-century cleric Thomas Percy, and the late Victorian collection by Francis James Child called The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. Child's collection contains 305 ballads and many variants, and many ballads are still known by their "Child number."

Sometimes "border ballad" is used to refer to those ballads that originated from the area around the border between England and Scotland.


From the Guide to Literary Terms by Jack Lynch.
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Note: This guide is still in the early stages of development.
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