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Ballads are poems that are meant to be sung, and as such, have a songlike quality to them. They are usually narrative; that is, they tell a story. These types of poems were common (in the past) with lower-class people and people who could not read - they were one of the ways in which stories and entertainment could be presented. If you are analysing a ballad, this fact should be in the back of your mind. Ballads are usually impersonal - once the ballad begins, you are meant to become immersed in the story and forget who is telling it. Many ballads have lots of repetition or refrains in them. Sometimes the repeated sections are refereed to as the chorus like in a song. Here is an extract from a ballad about Robin Hood and his sidekick, Little John:

When Robin Hood was about twenty years old,

With a hey down, down, and a down

He happen'd to meet Little John,

A jolly brisk blade, right fit for the trade,

For he was a lusty young man.


Though he was call'd Little, his limbs they were large,

And his stature was seven foot high;

Whereever he came, they quak'd at his name,

For soon he wou'd make them to flie.