The ballade is a French form composed of three stanzas of eight lines and an envoy of four lines, with the last line of each stanza being a refrain. It is usually iambic tetrameter or pentameter. The rhyme scheme is ababbcbC ababbcbC ababbcbC bcbC. The envoy is usually addressed to "Prince," or patron, or person referenced in the poem.

A Saturnalian Ballade

December's chill is in the air,
And Saturn's feast holds much in store.
The Golden Age has left an heir
Whose rightful reign we may restore,
Though briefer than the one before.
For seven days the fun abounds,
And even slaves enjoy the roar.
In Rome the cry of "Io!" resounds.

This topsy-turvy world affair
Creates a break from rank and chore,
And even winter's icy glare
Diminishes to frosty hoar
That decks the wreath on domus door.
The hall within is filled with sounds
Of laughter as the spirits soar.
In Rome the cry of "Io!" resounds.

As all may gamble if they dare,
The pips on dice display the score.
The room is bright from candle flare,
And banquet tables fill the floor.
The festive meal is roasted boar,
With other dishes heaped in mounds,
And goblets filled in rounds galore.
In Rome the cry of "Io!" resounds.

O Prince, your reign concludes once more,
But true to form, it still astounds
And harkens back to days of yore...
In Rome the cry of "Io!" resounds.

[ back to poetry page ]