Ballad

Structure:
*4 Lines (quatrain)
*One stanza
*2nd and 4th line rhyme

Characteristics:
Short event or story put into song. Folk ballads are one stanza, literary ballads are more formal and can be composed of several stanzas.

Origins:
Also called popular ballads, ballads were passed orally from generation to generation as songs. The song would usually tell a story and include a shock refrain (impacting repetition) without going into detail of setting, characterization, etc.
Example:

Jésse had a wífe to móurn for his lífe,
Three chíldren, théy were bráve;
But the dírty little cóward that shót Mister Hóward
Has láid Jesse Jámes in his gráve.

“Ballad of Jesse James”


(Example from The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2004, Columbia University Press.)