The ballad is an oral poem which was originally intended for musical accompaniment and dancing. Ballads were a phenomenon of the later Middle Ages throughout Europe and spread or to America through immigration in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Ballads are anonymous; they were handed down or generations by singers or minstrels. The singers composed the balla d using stock phrases or descriptions from the repertoire they all knew.
Traditional ballads tell a story which often revols round lo, death, renge, hting and supernatural ents. The story-line is simple: it usually deals with a single episode, starts in mid-action and concentrates on a few essential details of plot.
Many ballads were composed in a four.line stanza characterised by an rhyme scheme and by pronounced rhythm. They often include a line or group of lines which are repeated at intervals forming a refrain. Their language is rich in short concrete words and makes extensi use of repetition to highlight a detail and to increase the memorability of the text.