What Is a Ballad Meter?


When it comes to poetry, anything goes. However, all poetry is made up of stressed and unstressed syllables in each line. Ballad meter is one example of a specific meter used in poetry. To understand it, you must first learn what makes up the meter and rhyme in poetry.


Meter is the pattern of stressed and​ ​unstressed syllables​ ​in lines of poetry with a specific number of syllables.​ There are three types of meter:

  • Iambic
  • Tetrameter
  • Trimeter


Iambic describes two syllables together following a pattern of unstressed then stressed.

For example, take the words "when in”. In this metrical foot, these words would be an iamb if “when” was unstressed and “in” was stressed.

Iambic Tetrameter

Tetrameter is the term used to describe the number of iambic patterns in one line.​ Each pattern is called ​a foot.​ In iambic tetrameter, each foot is made up of two syllables, and each line contains four feet.

Iambic Trimeter

In​ ​iambic trimeter​​, each foot contains two syllables, and a line is made up of three feet.

Rhyme Scheme

A​ ​rhyme scheme​ ​is a consistent pattern of rhymes throughout a poem.​ The scheme used in ballad meter is one where the second and fourth lines rhyme. The pattern can be represented as: A-B-C-B, where the second line and the fourth line rhyme.

Ballad Meter

Ballad meter​ ​is a type of poetry that consists of​ ​four-line stanzas​ ​and uses alternating​ ​lines of iambic tetrameter​ ​and​ ​iambic trimeter​​, with a​ ​rhyme scheme​ ​of​ ​A-B-C-B​​.

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