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literature

The Ballade and Chant Royale

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Published: June 7, 2003
The Ballade
The ballade is one of the fixed forms that became so popular in France in the 14th century. The name derives from the Old Provençal ballada, a song sung while dancing. One of the first poets given credit for perfecting the style and popularizing the form is Guillaume de Machaut.

The poem consists of three stanzas of eight lines each, followed by an envoy of four lines. Each stanza uses the same fourth, and last line, and these are also respectively, the second, and last line of the envoy. The form ends up looking like this.

a-b-a-B-b-c-b-C
a-b-a-B-b-c-b-C
a-b-a-B-b-c-b-C
b-B-c-C

One thing that makes this form a bit more challenging, is that the stanzas all share the same rhyme. By this I mean that throughout the poem, ALL of the a\'s rhyme, and All of the b\'s, and all of the C\'s. As for meter, ballades can come in any meter, as long as it\'s consistant throughout the poem.

Ballades are suited to a wide range of subjects. The repeated lines make it a good form for a very short tale, or for praising someone in.

The Chant Royale
The Chant Royal is another of the elaborate, fixed French forms of the fourteenth century. It comes from the ballade, and has a similar form except that it\'s even more elaborate.

This form consists of five, eleven line stanzas followed by a five line envoy. The form would look like this.

a-b-a-b-c-c-d-d-e-d-E
a-b-a-b-c-c-d-d-e-d-E
a-b-a-b-c-c-d-d-e-d-E
a-b-a-b-c-c-d-d-e-d-E
a-b-a-b-c-c-d-d-e-d-E
d-d-e-d-E

The last line of each stanza, and the last of the envoy are all the same. As in the ballade, all of the stanzas share the same rhymes, so there are only five sets of rhyming words here. This ends up being a very long form, usually in iambic pentameter, but not limited to it. My suggestion would be to choose a subject that is either highly descriptive, or to tell a story with this form. The length alone is a bit daunting.
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© 2003 - 2019 poetic-forms
Here are write-ups on the ballade and it's longer and similar counterpart, the chant royale. Thanks to ~elenehn for the write-up!
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Comments (4)
PopMcfly's avatar
what do the capital letters pertain to? like a-b-a-B-b-c-b-C
thanks.
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poetic-forms's avatar
It pertains to the rhyme scheme. The a's all rhyme the same. The b's would end with the same rhyme. The B has a different ending, no rhyme, as does the C, they don't rhyme with anything in the poem.
Reply  ·  
corruptedangel's avatar
The Chant Royale -------- mmmmmm......... sounds interesting, gives me a chance to write something longer than my usualy, I've tried doing that before but I get too confused, this should help! ;)
Reply  ·  
tessuraea's avatar
I'm going to write a ballade tonight.

I should sleep instead.

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