Ballade: Poetic Forms

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

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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