Poetry 101: Narrative Poetry Continued (The Ballad)

Poetry 101: Narrative Poetry Continued (The Ballad)

By James Matthew Byers


Greetings from the Darque Bard!

Narrative poetry continues this week with the ballad. Most of us associate the term “ballad” with a love anthem, or “soft song,” on some heavy metal band’s latest album. (Perhaps I just gave away my age here) In my youth, it was typically the one song that helped push the album’s sells along into the mainstream world. Those were the days …

This type of ballad is different. The poetry format can be used in a song, as some have a repetitive refrain. But not always. They have been used in retelling folktales and at one point were passed down orally. Here is a link explaining what to look for in a ballad: 


Here is another great link for the ballad … 


Ballads tell stories, or at least most of them do. One of my all time favorites is by the late, great Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It’s called “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Definitely check it out. It is way worth the read. 


That being said, it’s time to compose a ballad of my own. Then you try one in the space provided for comments. Here we go!

Beware the lashing tongue of wrath
The power to uncover
Amazed within her fervent zeal
The plight of Grendel’s mother

A hero took her son away
A man’s hand came to smother
Uncanny as he ripped an arm
Unleashing Grendel’s mother

The death of one, her only child
Released a fury’s pother
In hallowed halls of Hrothgar’s kin
So came she, Grendel’s mother

Ablaze and full of scornful hate
An anger like no other
Exploding trough the door in rage
Avenging, Grendel’s mother

Aeschere took the brunt of it,
The trusted kinsman; brother
As nothing but his head was found
Removed by Grendel’s mother

And down below the darkest deep
Awaiting to discover
The man who slew her precious son
He comes for Grendel’s mother …

Go on! Don’t be shy. Try one. How about using a monster as the theme? Any kind you like. And until next week, happy writing!

-The Darque Bard


About the Author

James Matthew Byers, the Darque Bard, is a published, award winning poet. He has been in numerous anthologizes, eZines, and magazines, such as Weirdbook, Grievous Angel eZine, and Heroic Fantasy Quarterly. His debut publication, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, was published in 2016 by Stitched Smile Publications and is a rhyming version of the ancient poem. He has also won or placed in multiple contests in the Alabama State Poetry Society. He resides in Odenville, Alabama, drifting between the forests. A bard’s work is never done.