A ballad is a traditional story – poem, often written in 4 line stanzas with lines 1 and 3 having 4 beats and lines 2 and 4 having 3 beats. In this kind of meter, and with some traditional line-end rhyming, the ballad has a kind of singing quality. In olden times, they were used to pass news or yarns around from place to place.
Opening to Mr Bleaney – by Philip Larkin
'This was Mr Bleaney's room. He stayed
The whole time he was at the Bodies, till
They moved him.' Flowered curtains, thin and frayed,
Fall to within five inches of the sill,
Whose window shows a strip of building land,
Tussocky, littered. 'Mr Bleaney took
My bit of garden properly in hand.'
Bed, upright chair, sixty-watt bulb, no hook ….
A ballad can be funny, whimsical, ironic, bawdy, drunken. Ideally, it needs to be a rich, lifelike, compelling read. Other pointers are;
· have a plot
· have characters
· include dialogue
· contain some sort of drama