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Difference between a Ballad and a Sonnet

Difference between a Ballad and a Sonnet

The terms ballad and sonnet are often used interchangeably, but there is a distinct difference between the two. A ballad is a folk song that tells a story, while a sonnet is a poem that is typically 14 lines long and follows a specific poetic form. Though the two share some similarities, they are unique in their own ways. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between ballads and sonnets.

What is a Ballad?

A ballad is a song that tells a story. Ballads were originally written to be sung, and they often have a repeating chorus or refrain. Many ballads were passed down orally from generation to generation, and they often contain elements of folklore or mythology. In literature, a ballad is a poem that tells a story and is often written in a simple, direct style. Ballads often have a tragic or romantic theme, and they often end with a moral lesson or a feeling of hope. William Wordsworth’s “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” are two famous examples of literary ballads.

What is a Sonnet?

A sonnet is a fourteen-line poetic form that originated in Italy during the Renaissance. The sonnet typically consists of an octave (eight lines) and a sestet (six lines), although there are a number of variations on this basic structure. The octave typically introduces a problem or challenge, while the sestet offers a resolution or solution. The sonnet is written in iambic pentameter, meaning that each line contains ten syllables with stress on every second syllable. This rhythmic structure gives the sonnet a musical quality that has made it one of the most popular poetic forms for centuries. Sonnets have been written by some of the world’s most celebrated poets, including William Shakespeare, John Keats, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Difference between a Ballad and a Sonnet

A ballad is a type of poem that tells a story, often of a folk nature. Ballads are typically written in simple, rhyming stanzas, and they often make use of repetition and refrain. In contrast, a sonnet is a 14-line poem that is written in iambic pentameter. Sonnets often explore complex emotions and ideas, and they frequently make use of traditional poetic devices such as metaphors and similes. While a ballad may be easy to understand and follow, a sonnet can be more challenging to interpret. However, both types of poems can be highly effective in conveying a message or telling a story.


Though the two poetic forms have many similarities, there are a few distinct differences between ballads and sonnets. Sonnets are typically 14 lines long, while ballads can be any length. Sonnets follow a specific rhyme scheme, while ballads do not. And finally, sonnets are more often than not about love, while ballads may tell any story.

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