mutable, unstable genres." (5) Martin shows that what we now call "the" ballad stanza
was only one of a range of ballad stanzas
recognized by mid-Victorian poets, prosodists, and readers; to supplement Martin's reading with an additional example, witness the opening lines of Newman's ballad translation of Book I of the Iliad:
More significantly McKay's conjunction of dialect and traditional prosody both denaturalizes dialect, rendering it a linguistic mode no less artificial, no more authentic, than standard English or the ballad stanza
, and defamiliarizes and re-forms "English" poetry and poetic language.
This observation can be extended from rhymes to line length as well which, in turn, may throw the so-called ballad stanza
, for instance (where a longer line alternates with a shorter one), into a new perspective.
Not one to kowtow to authority, Trower wields the ballad stanza
like a fine old rust-flecked sword.
Add to this the historical resonance of a poem's genre--the sonnet, the ballad stanza
, blank verse, among many others--and the levels of meaning multiply.
Even Langston Hughes referred to Dunbar as "the black Robert Burns," and there may be direct references to Burns in "Confirmation," "The Spelling Bee," and "In Summer."(2) Burns, like Dunbar, wrote dialect poems, songs, and ballads, and Dunbar, like Burns, "loved the dear old ballads best" ("Songs" 1.1), but unlike the Scottish bard, Dunbar rarely uses the standard ballad stanza
.(3) In the entire Dunbar oeuvre of about 500 poems, he uses the more widely known abcb form of the quatrain fewer than 30 times.
Where Southey occasionally alters the traditional four-line stanza by adding an extra line or two, Zukovskij never varies from the traditional four-line ballad stanza
. Once again, Zukovskij insists upon concreteness.
The hymn stanza grew out of the ballad stanza
: four beats, three beats, four beats, three beats in alternating isochronous lines of varying numbers of syllables locked in a rhyming quatrain.
I begin with a ballad stanza
spoken by Ophelia, which Percy incorporated virtually unchanged into "The Friar of Orders Gray," a poem mostly his own, which he included in the section of his Reliques, "Ballads that Illustrate Shakespeare":
As Darlene Harbour Unrue points out in this welcome, albeit frustrating, study and collection of Porter's poetry, "Night-Blooming Cereus" is "insufficiently thought through," as if the writer's imagination and sense of music were stymied by what Unrue calls "Porter's comfortable four-line ballad stanza
A verse stanza common in English ballads that consists of two lines in ballad meter, usually printed as a four-line stanza with a rhyme scheme of abcb, as in The Wife of Usher's Well, which begins:
This discord in the ballad stanza
signals the onset of violence.