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A ballad is "a narrative, rhythmic saga of a past affair, sometimes romantic and inevitably catastrophic, which is impersonally related, usually with foreshortened lines and simple repeating rhymes, and often with a refrain." (William Packard, The Art of Poetry Writing)

Ballads are most often folk poetry in a musical format, passed along orally from generation to generation, set and sung to music. Until written, the content evolves and changes over time, unlike a more traditional poem. Literary ballads are those composed and written formally.

Unlike more traditional poetry, ballads do not use a large amount of explanation. The narrative is usually simple, clear and easy to read. Emotion is usually kept to a minimum, and the motives of characters are rarely probed in any great detail. Dialogue is kept to an economical level, but frequently used to empower the language.

Repetition and refrains are also used in many ballads. This is a strong resemblance to many forms of traditional music. Many traditional ballads have themes related to the supernatural, and occasionally ballads contain a moral dimension to them.

The form of a ballad has been imitated in modern poetry - most notably by Charles Causley[?] in The Ballad of the Bread-man, a modern re-telling of the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Famous Ballads:

Ballad of the Alamo
Ballad of the Green Berets

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