Ballad poems are types of poems typically written with a certain lyrical quality to them and usually tell a story. Much like many other types of poetry, there are many different types of rhyme schemes and meters that can be used for ballads. They are often written as quatrains with rhyming between the last words in the second and fourth line of each stanza. Ballad poems can be written about many different subjects and can originate from a number of different countries, including the US and England.
While the term “ballad” has come to be frequently associated with romantic or sentimental music and poetry, there are many different types of ballad poems. The basic structure of these poems can vary quite a bit as well, though it is quite common for them to be written in some type of iambic meter. “Iambic” indicates that it is written with pairs of stressed and unstressed syllables in each line, usually followed by a term that indicates how many of these pairings are in each line. Ballad poems written in “iambic heptameter,” for example, contain seven pairs of stressed and unstressed syllables, while “iambic pentameter” indicates five such pairings.
Many ballad poems are written to include a lyrical or song-like quality to them, likely due to the origins of such works as spoken poems that could be sung. This is usually achieved through a rhyme scheme that accompanies the meter of the poem. The most common rhyme scheme for ballad poems is a quatrain structure in which the lines of the poem are arranged in groups of four lines per stanza. These quatrains are then typically written with the second and fourth line of each one ending with a word that rhymes. This is often indicated as an “a, b, c, b” scheme in which the end of each line is represented by a letter and matching letters indicating rhyming lines.
The subject matter of ballad poems can depend a great deal on the purpose of the poem and the preferences of the poet. Love and romance are common subjects, as are faith and spirituality or religion. Expressions of beauty in the natural world can also be found in these types of poems. There is even a subcategory of ballad poems known as “murder ballads,” which are poems written about true or fictional murders. These frequently include some form of supernatural justice or punishment against the murderer, though this is more common in murder ballads from the UK than American ballads of this type.