Why ‘Ballad’ Is A Poetry Form You Can Dance To

Light up a bonfire and dance with your poetry around it.

Ballad is derived from the same word ‘ballet’ was — “ballares” which means to dance.

Writing a ballad poem is writing a short story where you choose your own rhyme scheme. However, the most common, according to Poetry Foundation is one where you write four stanzas of three lines with an AAB rhyme scheme, where the first two lines rhyme and the third line does not.

Example for the rhyme scheme:

Your first line should introduce the reader to a story. One of the most famous poems by Edgar Allan Poe is ‘Annabel Lee,’ which does the exact same thing.

Extract from Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Annabel Lee’

It’s a different rhyme scheme as this poetry form gives you the freedom to experiment with rhyme.

Folk tales can be often found in the form of ballads. Most poems have the romance as their theme but you can write about any incident that has conflict. The first stanza should draw the reader in to continue, it should be the introduction to the rest of your poem.

To add rhythm that you can dance to, you can a repetitive chorus — the third line of your stanza could be your chorus that is repeated throughout the poem. The rhyme scheme could be, AAB CCB DDB EEB. This is not the rhyme you ought to follow.

Following is the continuation of ‘Annabel Lee.’

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love —
I and my Annabel Lee —
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me —
Yes! — that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we —
Of many far wiser than we —
And neither the angels in Heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling — my darling — my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea —
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

The phrase ‘…in the kingdom by the sea,’ is repeated. It becomes the chorus of the poem.

You learn from observation so if you want to explore the depth of how ballads can be lyrical enough to sing and dance read Lyrical Ballads. It is a compilation of the collaboration between William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge which was published in the 18th century. It is considered as the hallmark of English Romanticism.

So, how do you write a ballad?

  1. Think of a story you want to narrate.
  2. Choose a rhyme scheme or let it come to you as you write. 
    (Don’t force the rhyme)
  3. Make sure the sentences are short and crisp where each sentence at maximum has nine syllables.
  4. Now, if you want to go a step further, then grab a ukulele or any instrument and add melody to it.


Write ballads and get ready to perform them on the YourQuote app,
as we are bringing the video feature to your fingertips.

It’s showtime!


One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.