The ballade ( /bəˈlɑːd/; not to be confused with the ballad) is a form of French poetry. It was one of the three formes fixes (the other two were the Rondeau and the virelai) and one of the verse forms in France most commonly set to music between the late 13th and the 15th centuries.
The ballade is a verse form typically consisting of three eight-line stanzas, each with a consistent metre and a particular rhyme scheme. The last line in the stanza is a refrain. The stanzas are followed by a four-line concluding stanza (an envoi) usually addressed to a prince. The rhyme scheme is therefore usually 'ababbcbC ababbcbC ababbcbC bcbC', where the capital 'C' is a refrain.
The many different rhyming words that are needed (the 'b' rhyme needs at least fourteen words) makes the form more difficult for English than for French poets. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in the form. It was revived in the 19th century by English-language poets including Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne. Other notable English-language ballade writers are Andrew Lang and G. K. Chesterton (below). A humorous example is Wendy Cope's 'Proverbial Ballade'.