Ballade: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the ballade, a 28-line French poetic form.

Ballade Poems

The ballade is a French poetic form that offers everything I love about French forms, namely plenty of rhymes and refrains.

(French poetic forms.)

Here are the basic guidelines:

  • 28 lines
  • three stanzas of eight lines followed by a quatrain (or four-line stanza) called an envoy (or envoi)
  • rhyme scheme: ababbcbC/ababbcbC/ababbcbC/bcbC
  • final line of each stanza is a refrain
  • each line is usually comprised of eight or 10 syllables (flexible, but consistent within the poem)


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Here’s my attempt at a ballade:

the revolutionaries, by Robert Lee Brewer

we live large & in charge of all
we see or saw or whatever
because a rise precedes a fall
as a worse comes from a better
or a storm breaks up good weather
& maybe we seem like we’re clowns
laughing our way to the never
& there’s no one to slow us down

so do what you want but don’t stall
& assume that we’re not clever
because a rise precedes a fall
& best believe we want better
than what we have or whatever
we lost that you claim you have found
our want will swallow us forever
& there’s no one to slow us down

if you want a word you can call
& pretend the line’s not severed
because a rise precedes a fall
& we don’t believe your better
that you’ve been selling forever
expecting us to hang around
we’ve found a way of whatever
& there’s no one to slow us down

so lie your lies & whatever
makes you feel like you’re safe & sound
but we’re coming for our better
& there’s no one to slow us down

4 thoughts on “Ballade: Poetic Forms

  1. Avatarkhoward

    Waters life

    Thunder rumbles on the mountaintop
    Snow shows little veins for rain to run
    Water fines its way, streams to crop
    Mud slides with water, it weighs a ton
    In streams water rushes, what fun
    Twigs & sticks with paper boats kids play
    They ran & splash with laughter, who won
    Drops make their way from sky to ocean

    Lakes take the stream and grow tip-top
    At shorelines birds see their food done
    In the lake people dive and find belly flop
    Boats spray, anchor away and then fun
    Water falls from rocky walls, swirls anyone
    As the water falls a river calls come away
    The water leaves the lake for a river begun
    Drops make their way from sky to ocean

    Down the water heads express nonstop
    Pass all the towns with laughs of everyone
    Bridges,boats, cars & trains might stop
    The river slows, for tidal waters overrun
    Ocean birds show their colors for fun
    The noise thunders,waves break this day
    I see the sea receive the river that’s done
    Drops make their way from sky to ocean

    Sun out water evaporates, clouds one by one
    The water is white caped, the sky turns gray
    A cycle once again starts to play saturation
    Drops make their way from sky to ocean

  2. Avatartaylor graham


    The Muse’s chair sits out in all weathers
    gathering wisps of cloud-thoughts passing by
    and some iridescent shades of feathers
    she’s caught with glimpses of birds on the fly.
    You’ve been inside pondering which-where-why
    the chair is empty, waiting for a word.
    She’s left her post, she’s musing on the sly –
    your Muse is practicing dawn-song of a bird?

    Could this be her guise of all-togethers?
    the baited hook on line, a verse to fry?
    iridescent fish with scales, not feathers.
    What can that empty Muse’s chair belie?
    It’s almost spring, a Muse’s alibi.
    And what’s that wildwood warble you just heard?
    From canopies of oak – oh way up high –
    your Muse is practicing dawn-song of a bird.

    All around her chair, blossom-rot gathers
    a shining ring of toadstools (eat-and-die) –
    all iridescent in the way of fungi feathers.
    Lovely lethal Nature – she winks an eye.
    Art is where you find it; she wouldn’t lie.
    You wonder if your Muse has gone absurd
    or eaten metaphor like blackbird pie.
    Your Muse is practicing dawn-song of a bird.

    Her chair’s hovering as if set to fly
    on inspiration’s whim. A single word
    might set it wingless soaring into sky.
    Your Muse is practicing dawn-song of a bird.

  3. AvatarSara McNulty

    A Damaged Heart

    Under smile of lunette, she languishes,
    white curtain drawn back on bedroom window.
    Oh, to be so enmeshed in anguish
    once again, fooled by one so shallow–
    a promise of marriage turned fiasco.
    Time to return to family and friends,
    love of a truer kind, down to earth glow.
    It takes time for a damaged heart to mend.

    With sore eyes red from lamentation,
    she is stunned by perfidious actions
    of he who had shown such admiration
    for her and family–he paid attention,
    though sometimes she felt his condescension.
    How many others did he pretend
    to be smitten with, using reinvention.
    It takes time for a damaged heart to mend.

    She pondered the possibility
    that perhaps he was insecure, afraid
    to commit to responsibility.
    Could it be himself that he betrayed
    by erecting a solid steel blockade?
    She dried her eyes. She had to contend
    with heartache suffered; she was not to blame.
    It takes time for a damaged heart to mend.

    At first it felt like a sharpened blade
    that would surely cause her heart to rend.
    Her hurt and embarrassment would fade,
    it takes time for a damaged heart to mend.

  4. AvatarPressOn


    The chicory and Queen Anne’s Lace
    flaunt their expanse of white and blue
    along the roadside, at the space
    where field-dried corn lets yellow through,
    and here the asters, holding dew,
    mix vibrant purple with the wet;
    they form a shimmered sunlight brew
    as autumn wraps me in its net.

    The corn, though sere, holds pride of place,
    the stalks still standing plumb and true;
    each tassel forms a weathered face
    atop each member of the crew
    and here and there I spy a few
    of last year’s bean plants, growing yet
    and loosing gold to spice the view
    as autumn wraps me in its net.

    Migrating birds add fluid grace,
    replacing meadowlarks that flew
    to follow sunlight’s southward trace,
    but chickadees still form a queue
    of black and white and russet hue
    that limns the season’s movie set.
    The scene I see, no artist drew
    as autumn wraps me in its net.

    This time of year, I laugh anew:
    though winter comes, I shall not fret;
    this precious time leaves naught to rue
    as autumn wraps me in its net.


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