English, Department of


Date of this Version



Modern Language Notes, Vol. 35, No. 4 (Apr., 1920), pp. 217-222.


" It is a significant fact," says a well-known writer on ballads,' "that wherever found, the ballad style and manner are essentially the same." Many make the same generalization. But this is true only in the most general sense. It presupposes too great fixity ill the ballad style. The ballad is a lyric type exhibiting epic, dramatic, and choral elements; but within the type there is as great variation as within other lyric types. The ballad style is hardly more" essentially the same" than the song style in general, or the sonnet style, or the ode style. There is no single dependable stylistic test even for the English and Scottish traditional ballads; and there are wide differences between the ballads of divergent peoples, Scandinavian, German, Spanish, American. There are differences in the stanza form, in the presence and use of refrains, iteration, and choral repetition, in the preservation of archaic literary touches, in the method of narration, and the like.