The Ballade (Seven-Line Stanza)


Basic features & history of the verse form:
Number of lines 25-28
Structure / divisions Three seven-line stanzas followed by an envoi of four or five (or more) lines, or lacking an envoi entirely
Rhyme scheme ababbcC / ababbcC / ababbcC
Envoi: bbcC (Orleans) or
ddffd (Chaucer's "Complaint to His Purse") or
ababbcC (Chaucer's "Truth")
Meter Usually iambic tetrameter or iambic pentameter
Refrain line or lines Yes — refrain lines are designated by C; these lines rhyme with c lines
Time / place of origin Late 13th / early 14th-century France (envoi was added only in the late 14th century)
Medieval / Renaissance poets
  associated with this form
Charles d'Orleans, Geoffrey Chaucer
Examples written in English
  by or before —
14th century (Chaucer)



An example of a ballade (seven-line stanza):

by Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400)

      1  (a)  Fle fro the pres, and dwelle with sothefastnesse
      2  (b)  Suffise thin owne thing, thei it be smal;
      3  (a)  For hord hath hate, and clymbying tykelnesse.
      4  (b)  Prees hath envye, and wele blent overal.
      5  (b)  Savour not more thanne the byhove schal;
      6  (c)  Reule weel thiself, that other folk canst reede;
      7  (C)  And trouthe schal delyvere, it is no drede.
      8  (a)  Tempest the nought al croked to redresse
      9  (b)  In trust of hire that tourneth as a bal.
    10  (a)  Myche wele stant in litel besynesse;
    11  (b)  Bywar therfore to spurne ayeyns an al;
    12  (b)  Stryve not as doth the crokke with the wal.
    13  (c)  Daunte thiself, that dauntest otheres dede;
    14  (C)  And trouthe schal delyvere, it is no drede.
    15  (a)  That the is sent, receyve in buxumnesse;
    16  (b)  The wrestlyng for the worlde axeth a fal.
    17  (a)  Here is non home, here nys but wyldernesse.
    18  (b)  Forth, pylgryme, forth! forth, beste, out of thi stal!
    19  (b)  Know thi contre! loke up! thonk God of al!
    20  (c)  Hold the heye weye, and lat thi gost the lede;
    21  (C)  And trouthe schal delyvere, it is no drede.
    22  (a)  Therfore, thou Vache, leve thine olde wrechednesse;
    23  (b)  Unto the world leve now to be thral.
    24  (a)  Crie hym mercy, that of hys hie godnesse
    25  (b)  Made the of nought, and in espec{. i}al
    26  (a)  Draw unto hym, and pray in general
    27  (c)  For the, and eke for other, hevenelyche mede;
    28  (C)  And trouthe schal delyvere, it is no drede.


A Brief Guide to Some Medieval and Renaissance Verse Forms

Home | Terms/Concepts | Petrarchan Sonnet | Shakespearean Sonnet | Spenserian Sonnet | Rondeau | Chaucerian Roundel
Ballade: 8-line stanza | Ballade: 7-line stanza | Ballade: 10-line stanza | Sestina | Villanelle | Triolet | Strambotto | Rispetto | Links

Table and its contents Copyright 2004 by Jennifer M. Tom    ( Jennifer Monroe Franson )