Narrative Poems Aim of Lesson: To understand the ballad as a form of storytelling and poetry.
What is a ballad? A ballad is a poem with a regular rhythm and rhyme which often tells a legendary story. narrative poem: a poem that tells a story rhyme scheme: a pattern of rhyme that is consistent throughout the entire poem Rhythm: the number of ‘beats’ or stresses in a line or poetry Refrain: a stanza that is repeated (like a chorus)
Example: (from “The Enchanted Shirt” by John Hay) The King was sick. His cheek was red And his eye was clear and bright; He ate and drank with a kingly zest And peacefully snored at night. Look closely at the rhyme of the above verse. Only the second and fourth lines rhyme. The rhyme scheme can be shown in the following way … a b c b
The King was sick. His cheek was red And his eye was clear and bright; He ate and drank with a kingly zest And peacefully snored at night. Now let us consider the rhythm. Remember, you can work out the rhythm by counting the number of ‘beats’ in each line. Read the verse out loud and try tapping the table to determine how many beats are in each line. On which words do the stresses fall? xx xx xxx xxxx xxx Did you get it right? 4 3 4 3
Now we’ve understood the structure of each verse let us continue with the story and mark the rhyme scheme and rhythm. But he said he was sick and a king should know And doctors came by the score; They could not cure him so he cut off their heads And sent to the schools for more. Again, the rhyme scheme is abcb and the rhythm 4:3:4:3 d e f e xx xx xxx xxxx xxx * Notice: The rhyme scheme is always described by the first stanza (abcb), but each stanza begins new letters.
Now try to continue the ballad! Remember, it is a narrative so the story needs to progress and you must use regular rhythm and rhyme – in this case 4:3:4:3 and abcb. You may wish to use the following lines to get you started: At last two famous doctors came And they claimed to have a cure! ……………………………………….