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Exploring Pre 1914 Poetry Essay

1268 words - 5 pages

Exploring Pre 1914 Poetry

A ballad is a poem which tells a story, there are three different
types of ballad, literary, broadside and folk ballads. These all have
a very strong narrative, contain strong characters and contain
emotional political or social events or issues.

Broadside ballads were very similar to the newspapers of today, the
issues were mainly based on news and the language was simple, similar
of that of tabloid newspapers to this day. These ballads were
sometimes anonymous because they contained contervisal issues and
political issues so therefore the author could be killed if the
authorities disagreed. Broadside ballads were written on one large
piece of paper called a broadside. Also they were entertaining but
covered serious issues too. Some broadside ballads I looked at
including ''Danny Deever'' by Rudyard Kipling during 1890, ''Clever
Tom Clinch Going to Be Hanged'' by Jonathon Swift in 1726 and ''The
Battle Of Ned Ludd'' in 1812. This was anonymous because of its
contervsial views and by supporting the Luddites.

Folk ballads were also anonymous as this type of ballad was passed by
word of mouth so therefore its origin or author(s) has been forgotten
or unknown. They were not written down, were part of an oral tradition
and were mainly found amongst literate and semi-literate people. Folk
ballads tend to be tragic and sensational; they were drawn from the
natural world and folklore, usually about local people and local
concerns. But folk ballads were likely to have been changed from their
origin over time as it was passed from one teller to another; it would
be likely that the ballad would be shorter and different. ''John
Barleycorn'' was the folk ballad I looked in detail at.

Literary ballads were quite different from the other two forms,
literary ballads were written by a single poet who was always named
and never anonymous. They were based on supernatural and imagery
worlds, they focused on themes such as love and obsession. Literary
ballads were published for a more sophisticated and selective audience
and were not intended for popular consumption like broadside ballads.
Literary ballads were published in books for specifically educated and
literate people, not for 'lower-class' people who are more likely to
be un-literate therefore unlikely to buy the book. The length of this
type of ballad was also longer. Some literary ballads I looked at
included ''La Belle Dame Sans Merci'' by John Keats in 1819, ''The
Highwayman'' and ''The Lady of Shallot'' by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

The structure of broadside ballads is that they are short in length
with simple stanzas in order to be read easily and quickly; as they
were published and distributed to be read on the streets by the
populace and majority of the people. The short lines produce a quick

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