short narrative poem which is written to be sung and has a simple but dramatic theme

Ballads are a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads were particularly characteristic of British and Irish popular poetry and song from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and North Africa. Many ballads were written and sold as single sheet broadsides. The form was often used by poets and composers from the 18th century onwards to produce lyrical ballads.

Maria Wiik, "Ballad" (1898)


  • I knew a very wise man that believed that * * * if a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation.
    • Andrew Fletcher, quoting the Earl of Cromarty; Letters to the Marquis of Montrose, in Fletcher's Works (ed. 1749), p. 266.
  • I have a passion for ballads. * * * They are the gypsy children of song, born under green hedgerows in the leafy lanes and bypaths of literature,—in the genial Summertime.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 56.
  • I've now got the music book ready,
    Do sit up and sing like a lady
    A recitative from Tancredi,
    And something about "Palpiti!"
    Sing forte when first you begin it,
    Piano the very next minute,
    They'll cry "What expression there's in it!"
    Don't sing English ballads to me!
  • The farmer's daughter hath soft brown hair
    (Butter and eggs and a pound of cheese)
    And I met with a ballad, I can't say where,
    That wholly consisted of lines like these.
  • Thespis, the first professor of our art,
    At country wakes sung ballads from a cart.
  • For a ballad's a thing you expect to find lies in.
  • More solid things do not show the complexion of the times so well as Ballads and Libels.
    • John Selden, Libels. (Libels-pamphlets, libellum, a small book).
  • A famous man is Robin Hood,
    The English ballad-singer's joy.

See also

Wikipedia has an article about: