How effective is Betjeman's use of the Ballad form in 'Sir John Piers' .
A ballad is a form of verse to be sung or recited and characterised by its presentation of a dramatic or exciting episode in simple narrative form. Though the ballad is a form still much written, the so-called "popular ballad" in most literature's belongs to the early periods before written literature was highly developed. They still appear, however, in isolated sections and among illiterate and semi-literate peoples. .
The folk ballad is traditionally an anonymous poem that has been passed on through oral tradition (spoken aloud or sung) from generation to generation. A literary ballad is one that is not anonymous, but is written down by a poet as he composes it and is not necessarily meant to be sung. Most ballads tend to follow these elements: the beginning is often abrupt, the language is usually simple; action is largely developed through dialogue, tragic situations are presented with the utmost simplicity, incremental repetition is common as in the Art ballad nevertheless appears in brief flashes, a single episode of high dramatic nature is presented, and often the ballad is brought to a close with some sort of summary stanza. The stanzaic form of the folk ballad or popular ballad usually it consists of four lines, rhyming abcb or abab rhyme scheme. A ballad with six lines per stanza is not uncommon. The first and third line carry four accented syllables and the second and fourth carrying three. There is a great variation in the number of unstressed syllables. The rhyme is often approximate, assonance and consonance frequently appearing, a refrain is not uncommon. Most of the elements mention can be seen in Betjeman's poems.
John Betjeman wrote a group of Poems entitled ' Sir John Piers' as part of his collection ' Old lights, for new chancels' published in 1940. There are six parts to the series including an introduction to the subject at the beginning of five poems in the form of ballads.