Saturday, May 14, 2011

Let's All Write a Ballade!

You: Eine minuten bitte!  Haven't we already done this form, Paul?

Me:  No, that was a ballad.  This is a ballade.

You:  Well, you ask a stupid question, you get a stupid answer.

Me:  The ballade is a very old French poetic form.  The name of the form means "dancing song" which went far to inform my choice in material.  More on that in a moment.

This is, in my opinion, along with the sestina, most likely one of the more difficult forms we've tackled thus far.  One of the more traditional variations is three rhymed stanzas; final line of the stanzas repeat and the three stanzas are followed by an envoi, which is half the length of the stanzas, addressed to an important figure, and generally summing up the thesis of the matter expressed in the poem.  The rhyme scheme is as follows: ababbcbC ababbcbC ababbcbC bcbC. Got it?  That's okay.  That's why the good Lord gave us examples.

Unfortunately I was unable to come up with an example of a famous ballade being read or sung in English to my satisfaction by means of example for this post.  So, I took it upon myself to record one for the occasion, which I probably should have been doing all along.  Here is A Ballade of Suicide by G.K. Chesterton, read by me.

And here is the ballade of my own composition.  Ron Padgett expresses that ballades are often tailored to a specific occasion.  That mixed with the "dancing song" lead me to reflect on this specific time of year.  It is the very merry month of May in which, much to the chagrin of my sinuses, everything is blooming.  Of course, May also makes me think of May Day, the holiday of the extreme Left, which also put me in mind of how we are in that time of year when there are very few holidays.  I love the Spring, but it becomes a bit quotidian in going to work, coming home, going on walks, and so forth.  Between Easter and Independence Day, I am hard pressed to think of any major holiday markers in my year.  But returning to the theme of Spring and dancing, I pictured togas and outdoor dancing around a fire, a rite of Spring feeling.  Then I sat down and composed this:

Bona Dea Ballade
by Paul Mathers

Play Now!  Beat ye a tune upon the tabor!
Phoebus reflecting on verdant Spring's moon.
To mark the end of a warm day's labor
a draught, a dance, a merry piper's tune,
we shed our clothes, our wintery cocoon.
Invoke Terpsichore and Bacchus with lyre.
Our joy and hope to plant what will grow soon
and so we honor May with this bonfire.

As Peter's fingerprint on the zeus faber,
the budding green the hillsides now festoon.
Crops we hope the gods will show their favor.
Our time spent out of doors is opportune
to love and work, to pleasure and commune
with Nature's blooming bounty we aspire.
So now to Death we fancy us immune.
And so we honor May with this bonfire.

In unity we grasp the hands of neighbors.
Our path we with all sacred life attune.
Our ploughshares made of former swords and sabers
and drunk with blessed existence we swoon.
'Pon this small blue dot which we all were hewn,
our forefathers who crawled out of the mire,
that Fortune permits us at all's a boon.
And so we honor May with this bonfire.

Maia, who follows Artemis in lune,
May your regard this Beltane we acquire.
May none your sweet benevolence impugn.
And so we honor May with this bonfire.

1 comment:

  1. Mother's Day & Father's Day are between Easter and the 4th, also Memorial Day.