Almost all ballads have verses consisting of four or six lines, and use one of two basic meters, either 4-3-4-3 or 4-4-4-4 (Ballad). The ballad Sir Patrick Spence uses the 4-3-4-3 meter, but the ballad John Henry does not follow either of these meters (Ballad; Mostly). There is no variance in Sir Patrick Spence, all the verses having the same rhythm and rhyming pattern. John Henry has a different rhyming pattern for each verse so there is a lot of variance in the ballad in the version looked at here. The meter is different for each verse. The first verse is 3-3-5-4-4, the second is 4-4-4-4-4, the fourth verse is 3-3-4-5-5, and the last verse is 4-3-5-4-4, giving it a very uneven meter. However, in different versions of the ballad, and there are many, the meter is different, and in some is more regular. Many ballads have imperfect meter, but when the words are sung to the music, this is not so noticeable.
Most ballads have one of three different types of rhyme: abac, aabb, or abcb (Ballad). The first type of rhythm, abac, is found in ballads which include a chorus in the verse. In this case, the first and third lines of each verse rhyme, and the second and fourth lines, which are repeated as a chorus in each verse, also rhyme. This type of chorus is called a burden. The second type of rhyming scheme, aabb probably developed by the dropping of the burden, so the first and second lines rhyme, and so do the third and fourth. The third rhyming scheme, abcb, is the most common type of rhyming scheme found in Child's ballads. In this rhyming scheme, only the second and fourth lines rhyme.
The ballad of Sir Patrick Spence has the rhyming scheme abcb, with only the second and fourth lines rhyming (Mostly). The rhyming scheme in John Henry is abcbb, with the fourth line being repeated slightly abbreviated as the fifth line in the scheme (Ballad). Less than perfect rhyme combinations are often used by ballad writers. This c...
The theme of Sir Patrick Spence. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 16:40, December 19, 2014, from http://www.collegetermpapers.com/viewpaper/1303946525.html