Ballad Poems: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:03 Ballad Poems
  • 1:14 'On Top of Spaghetti'
  • 1:40 'Annabel Lee'
  • 3:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shelley Vessels

Shelley has taught at the middle school level for 10 years and has a master's degree in teaching English.

There are many types of poems. This lesson will focus on one type called a ballad poem. Learn what makes a ballad poem unique, and see some examples for yourself!

Ballad Poems

What do you think of when you think of the word 'ballad?' A song? Maybe one of those sappy love songs? Sappy love songs can be ballads, but what's their connection to a ballad poem? Let's take a look at some of the characteristics of a ballad poem.

A ballad poem is a poem with short stanzas, which are like the paragraphs of a poem, that usually has four lines but not always. While not all poems rhyme, ballad poems do, and they use a simple rhyming structure, like a song. Usually, the second and fourth lines rhyme. Sometimes there's a refrain, or a line, section, or stanza that repeats.

Ballad poems also tell a story called a narrative. Narratives are stories with characters, settings, and a plot. Ballad poems usually tell a story about love or loss.

Finally, the rhyming structure found in ballad poems makes them fun to read aloud, and that's why they were originally written. Many times ballad poems were set to music and performed for an audience. So, doesn't it make sense that those sappy love ballads you hear are just like ballad poems?

'On Top of Spaghetti'

Here's a part of a ballad poem that you might be familiar with:

'On top of spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table,
And onto the floor,
And then my poor meatball,
Rolled out of the door.'

Did you notice that this has the traditional four-line stanza and rhyming scheme? It's also a narrative, so it makes a great ballad poem.

'Annabel Lee'

This next example is from the poem 'Annabel Lee' by Edgar Allan Poe and is about a woman he loved and lost.

Here is the first stanza:

'It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.'

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