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• A ballad is a narrative poem that often retells

the story of an heroic deed, a legend or a
recent event.

• It is written in rhymed verse which could be

Features of Ballad
• Simple language.
 The writers feature language that readers
can understand easily without repeated
• Stories.
 tend to be narrative poems / poems that
tell stories
Features of Ballad (Cont..)
• Third-person objective narration.
 usually do not speak in the first person
(unless speaking as a character in the
 Narrators often do not comment on their
reactions to the emotional content of the
• Ballad stanzas.

 The traditional ballad stanza consists of four

lines, rhymed abcb
 In traditional ballad, the first and third lines have
four stresses, while the second and fourth have
 Example of a stanza from "Sir Patrick Spens," :
'I saw the new moon late yestreen
Wi' the auld moon in her arm;
And if we gang to sea, master,
I fear we'll come to harm.'
• Repetition.
 often has a refrain.
 a repeated section that divides segments
of the story.
 employ incremental repetition, in which a
phrase recurs with minor differences as
the story progresses.
 For a classic example of incremental
repetition in "Lord Randall.“ (Repeat in
first two lines of each stanza)
Lord Randall
‘O WHERE ha you been, Lord Randal, my son?
And where ha you been, my handsome young man?’
‘I ha been at the greenwood; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I’m wearied wi hunting, and fain wad lie down.’

‘An what met ye there, Lord Randal, my son?

An wha met you there, my handsome young man?’
‘O I met wi my true-love; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I’m wearied wi huntin, an fain wad lie down.’
• Dialogue.

Ballads often incorporate multiple characters

into their stories.
Often, since changes of voice were
communicated orally, written transcriptions of
oral ballads give little or no indication that the
speaker has changed.
Rhythm and Rhymes

• usually have a rhyming pattern of either

abac, aabb or abcb

As I was walking al alane

I saw twa corbies makin' mane
the tane untae the tither did say
where shall we gang and dine the day?
Language used
• language that focuses on actions and dialogue

• language that indirectly conveys information about

the characters, relationships, events, time period
and setting

• often written in third or first person

• have a regular beat (metrical) structure

• are often written in complete sentences

• language that is selected to convey a particular mood

or evoke an emotional response.
 A long poem that tells the deeds and adventures
of heroic or legendary figures, or the history of a

The hero is usually the representative of the values

of a certain culture, race, nation or a religious group
on whose victor of failure the destiny of the whole
nation or group depends.

An epic usually starts with an invocation to muse,

but then picks up the threads of the story from the
Characteristics of Epic Poem

 Epics are written as long, narrative poems or use lofty,

poetic language.
 Heroes in the story have qualities that the culture as a
whole values.
 Heroes in the story are important people of high
standing in society.
 The setting is vast: heroes go on a journey.
 There are gods or supernatural forces involved in the
 The epic is based on stories that were told as part of a
culture’s oral tradition.

 The Hero is often a god or son of a god.

 The story is often about the founding of a nation.

 The story often involves a war or battles against

Examples of Epics
 The Iliad and Odyssey (Ancient Greek)
 The Aeneid (Ancient Roman)
 Gilgamesh (Ancient Mesopotamian)
 The Ramayana (Ancient Indian)
 Beowulf (Medieval English)
 The Edda (Medieval Icelandic)
 Jewang Ungi (Medieval Korean)
 Journey to the West (Medieval Chinese)
 The Tale of the Heike (Medieval Japanese)
Difference Between An Epic and A Ballad

A ballad is shorter in length than an epic, while it is

composed to be sung on some occasions, and not

Most of the ballads have unknown origin and source

and usually pass on orally from generations to
The actual difference between the two is the length
and the fact that one is usually meant to be sung, while
the other is to be narrated.

Both differ in style where a ballad is composed in a

simple language, while an epic demonstrates mastery
in style such as Paradise Lost.

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