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FURTHER READING
Related Poems
Ballade [I die of thirst beside the fountain]
by François Villon
Ballade [The goat scratches so much it can't sleep]
by François Villon
European Forms
Poetic Form: Ballad
Poetic Form: Cinquain
Poetic Form: Rondeau
Poetic Form: Sestina
Poetic Form: Terza Rima
Poetic Form: Triolet
Poetic Form: Villanelle
Related Prose
Poetry Glossary
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François Villon
Most of what is known about François Villon has been gathered from legal records and gleaned from his own writings...
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Forms & Techniques
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Poetic Form: Ballade

 

The ballade was one of the principal forms of music and poetry in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century France. Not to be confused with the ballad, the ballade contains three main stanzas, each with the same rhyme scheme, plus a shorter concluding stanza, or envoi. All four stanzas have identical final refrain lines. The tone of the ballade was often solemn and formal, with elaborate symbolism and classical references.

One of the most influential writers of early ballades was François Villon. He used the exacting form and limited rhyme scheme to create intense compositions about poverty and the frailty of life. Inspired by debauchery and vagrancy of his criminal life, his work often included scathing attacks on the wealthy and declarations about injustice.

In English, ballades were written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the fourteenth-century, and revived by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne in the nineteenth-century. Aside from adaptations of Villon composed by Ezra Pound, there are few modern examples of the ballade and it is most often reserved for light verse.


Examples of poems in the Ballade form:

Ballade [I die of thirst beside the fountain]
by François Villon

Ballade [The goat scratches so much it can't sleep]
by François Villon



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