Experiments in Form Part 8: The Ballade

Today’s poem is a prayer. It has been a difficult week: not a disaster, but still one to test the limits of my faith. I have tried to express something of the emotions of the week in this poem, one of the more rigid poetic structures, the ballade. A ballade has a structure of three eight-line stanzas, all ending with the same line and repeating the same ABABBCBC rhyming scheme, then finishing with a four line envoi. Something about the repetition and closing envoi of the ballade make it feel a little like a prayer. So today’s ballade is just that.


Some days the silence of your hands
Causes all my hopes to churn –
All my unspoken, cherished plans,
The futile things for which I yearn –
And in each winding, spiral turn,
My doubts deny signs of relief;
They laugh at hope and patience spurn.
Help my mocking unbelief.

Some days the silence of your plans –
The end-point of this long sojourn,
The reasons for all “buts” and “ands” –
Enrages me, when all I’ve learned
Gives me no wisdom to discern
The light from fog, the hope from grief.
As anguish and mute anger burn,
Help my shouting unbelief.

And some todays, although I scan
Your works for something to affirm
The nagging hope that all might pan
Out for good, despite wrong turns,
I still long to dictate my terms
And rot my faith from underneath.
When cold despair is all I’ve earned,
Help my numbing unbelief.

And when your grace bids me return,
Before your throne to beg reprieve,
My hip-bone broken, pride upturned,
Help my frail unbelief.

2 thoughts on “Experiments in Form Part 8: The Ballade

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