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Poetry
Write a Ballad



Write a Ballad
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.81

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    abab, Casabianca, stanza, abcb, burning, chieftain, childlike, dialogue, scheme, excerpt, pinpoint, realm, narrative, compose, prose, acceptable
     content words:    Dudley Randall, Felicia D.


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Write a Ballad
By Brenda B. Covert
  

1     You may be familiar with the musical form called a ballad; it's a song that tells a story, and it is often set to slow music. A ballad in the realm of poetry still tells a story but is not set to music. A ballad is a narrative poem made up of strong rhythm and rhyme and often includes repetition of certain lines. If you have a story to tell, you may enjoy telling it in the form of a ballad.
 
2     How can you recognize a ballad when you read one? Besides the rhythm, rhyme, and repetition, there are other key elements to look for. One is the presence of dialogue within the poem. Just as stories generally feature dialogue among characters, so do most ballads. Also, the four-line stanzas have a set pattern: the first and third lines will have four beats, and the second and fourth lines will have three. Usually, the rhyme scheme will be abcb, though abab is also acceptable.
 
3     Here is an excerpt from the "Ballad of Birmingham" by Dudley Randall. This poem was based on the bombing of an Alabama church in 1963 in which four girls died.

Paragraphs 4 to 10:
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