“The French forms have been generally considered much more demanding of the English-speaking poet than forms such as sonnets and ballads. ” – Judith Barrington The Ballade (“bah-LAHD”) Introduction 1. The term Ballade stems from the Latin word “ballare which means to dance. 2. Ballades grew out of the songs of the French troubadours 3. The ballade is considered “the most important of the OF fixed forms and the dominant verseform of OF poetry in the 14th and 15th cs” (Brogan 24). 4. oets such as Christine de Pisan, Charles d’Orleans, and Guillaume de Machaut help to solidify the ballade as a French form; however, Frangois Villon is considered “the master of the form” (Padgett 21 Ballade Structure 1 . There are a number of variations of the ballade (ballade supreme, double ballade, double ballade supreme, and double refrain ballade). However, “the most common shape the ballade takes is that of three stanzas, followed by an envoi (a short final stanza) that addresses an important person and sums up the point of the poem.
The number of lines in the envoi is always half the number of lines of one of the stanzas” (Padgett 21). 2. Typically the Ballade is organized into octaves (eight line stanzas). The rhyme scheme for these ctaves as well as the envoi is quite strict, with the last line of each octave serving as a refrain. The rhyme scheme is typically: ababbcbC. (the capital “C” referring to the refrain) and the envoi: bcbC 3. “No rhyme can be repeated even if spelled differently: the rhyming syllable must be different in sound (thus “see” and “sea” are not allowed)” (Barrington 181) 4.
Bearing that in mind, the overall rhyme scheme for the ballade is ababbcbC ababbcbC ababbcbC bcbC 5. The envoi typically begins with a direct address, traditionally beginning with an address to the “Prince,’ derived from the edieval literary competition at which the presiding judge was so addressed, forms the climatic summation of the poem” (Brogan 25). “The difficulty with [the ballade] stems from the relatively few rhymes available in Enlish as opposed to French. It is particularly hard to maintain the freshness of thryming words since the same rhymes occur throughout the poem.
The refrains, too, can be difficult, since they must recur in a natural way that does not seem tacked on” (Barrington 182). The Ballad of the Dead Ladies By Franqois Villon Translated by Dante Gabriel Rosettie (1828-1882) TELL me now in what hidden way is Lady Flora the lovely Roman? Where ‘s Hipparchia, and where is Thais, Neither of them the fairer woman Where is Echo, beheld of no man, 5 Only heard on river and mere,” She whose beauty was more than human?… But where are the snows of yester-year?
Where ‘s H©loise, the learned nun, For whose sake Abeillard, ween, 10 Lost manhood and put priesthood on? (From Love he won such dule and teen! ) And where, I pray you, is the Queen Who will’d that Buridan should steer SeWd in a sack’s mouth down the Seine?… 15 But where are the snows o yester-year? White Queen Blanche, like a queen of lilies, With a voice like any mermaiden, Bertha Broadfoot, Beatrice, Alice, And Ermengarde the lady of Maine,” 20 And that good Joan whom English-men At Rouen doom’d and burn’d her there, Mother of God, where are they then?…
Nay, never ask this week, fair lord, 25 Where they are gone, nor yet this year, Save with thus much for an overword, A Ballad of Franqois Villon, Prince of All Ballad-Makers Translated by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) Bird of the bitter bright grey golden morn Scarce risen upon the dusk of dolorous years, First of us all and sweetest singer born Whose far shrill note the world of new men hears Cleave the cold huddering shade as twilight clears; When song new-born put Off the Old world’s attire And felt its tune on her changed lips expire, Writ foremost on the roll of them that came Fresh girt for service of the latter lyre, Villon, our sad bad glad mad brother’s name! Alas the joy, the sorrow, and the scorn, That clothed thy life with hopes and sins and fears, And gave thee stones for bread and tares for corn And plume-plucked gaol-birds for thy starveling peers Till death clipt close their flight with shameful shears; Till shifts came short and loves were hard to hire, When lilt of song nor twitch oftwangling wire Could buy thee bread or kisses; when light fame Spurned like a ball and haled through brake and briar, Poor splendid wings so frayed and soiled and torn! poor kind wild eyes So dashed with light quick tears! oor perfect voice, most blithe when most forlorn, That rings athwart the sea whence no man steers Like joy-bells crossed with death-bells in our ears! What far delight has cooled the fierce desire That like some ravenous bird was strong to tire On that frail flesh and soul consumed with flame, But left more sweet than roses to respire, Villon, our sad bad glad mad brother’s name? Prince of sweet songs made out oftears and fire, A harlot was thy nurse, a God thy sire; Shame soiled thy song, and song assoiled thy shame. But from thy feet now death has washed the mire, Love reads out first at head of all our quire, Villon, our sad bad glad mad brother’s name. A Ballade of Suicide by G.
Chesterton (1874-1936) The gallows in my garden, people say, Is new and neat and adequately tall; tie the noose on in a knowing way As one that knots his necktie for a ball; But just as all the neighbours”on the wall- Are drawing a long breath to shout “Hurray! ” The strangest whim has seized me…. After all hink I will not hang myself to-day. To-morrow is the time I get my pay– My uncle’s sword is hanging in the hall- see a little cloud all pink and grey– Perhaps the Rector’s mother will not call- fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall That mushrooms could be cooked another way” never read the works of Juvenal The world will have another washing-day; The decadents decay; the pedants pall; And H. G.
Wells has found that children play, And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall; Rationalists are growing rational– And through thick woods one finds a stream astray, So secret that the very sky seems small- Envoi Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal, The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way; Even to-day your royal head may fall” The Southern Road BY Dudley Randall (1914-2000) There the black river, boundary to hell. And here the iron bridge, the ancient car, And grim conductor, who with surly yell Forbids white soldiers where the black ones are. And I re-live the enforced avatar Of desperate journey to a dark abode Made by my sires before another war; And I set forth upon the southern road.
To a land where shadowed songs like followers swell And where the earth is scarlet as a scar Friezed by the bleeding lash that fell (O fell) pon my fathers’ flesh. O far, far, far And deep my blood has drenched it. None can bar My birthright to the loveliness bestowed upon this country haughty as a star. This darkness and these mountains loom a spell Of peak-roofed town where yearning steeples soar And the holy holy chanting ofa bell Shakes human incense on the throbbing air Where bonfires blaze and quivering bodies char. Whose is the hair that crisped, and fiercely glowed? know it; and my entrails melt like tar O fertile hillsides where my fathers are, From which my griefs like trouble streams have flowed, have to love you, though they sweep me far.