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Tinker

The Dansa or Balete or Ballata, The Desdansa and The Balada

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry

French Poetry

Dansa (Occitan), Balete (Old French), or Ballata (Italian),was a popular lyrical verse during the Middle Ages. It was originally set to music meant for joyful dancing. It has limited rhyme and includes a refrain. The verse form was used by poets such as Dante, Petrarch and Medici .

The Dansa, Balete, Ballata is:

  1. stanzaic, written most often in 3 quatrains which includes a refrain at the end of each stanza. Occasionally you may find more than 3 stanzas in the poem. The refrain is also added at the beginning of the 1st quatrain, making the 1st stanza a quintain.
  2. categorized as having no set meter. However during the period from which these verse forms emerged, quantitative or syllabic meters were most often present in the verse of these regions. The dominant Occitan meter was hexasyllabic (6 syllable) lines and the dominant Italian meter was the heptasyllabic (7 syllable) lines with the primary accent on the 6th syllable.
  3. rhymed, rhyme scheme AbbaA bbaA bbaA

    Ballata by Judi Van Gorder

    Da di DUM da di DUM DUM DUM
    Hear the clacking of flying feet
    striking a military beat
    The catchy cadence comes up from
    da di DUM da di DUM DUM DUM

    Open flirting turns up the heat
    when good music and dancers meet.
    The heart becomes the kettle drum
    da di DUM da di DUM DUM DUM

    No one will be taking a seat
    they slide and step and then repeat
    they dance until their toes are numb,
    da di DUM da di DUM DUM DUM.

  • Balada (France) is a less popular version and differs from the Dansa or Balatta in that it is more a genre than a stanzaic form. The only consistent requirements being that the verse be lyrical and carry a "persistent" refrain. (The refrain can be more than one line.) From there the frame varies at the discretion of the poet. However the NPEOPP suggests that the first line of the refrain is repeated after the 1st line and sometimes 2nd line of each stanza. 
    The Balada is:
    1. stanzaic, often written in 3 stanzas (at least 5 lines each) of consistent number of lines (3 quintains, 3 sixains, 3 octaves etc.)Occasionally you may find more than 3 stanzas in the poem.
    2. Sometimes written with a mote which then serves as a refrain.
    3. the lines have no set meter. However during the period from which these verse forms emerged, quantitative or syllabic meters were most often present in the verse of these regions. The dominant Occitan meter was hexasyllabic (6 syllable) lines and the dominant Italian meter was the heptasyllabic (7 syllable) lines with the primary accent on the 6th syllable.
    4. rhymed, when written with a mote and 3 quintains, rhyme scheme AbAbaA bAbaA bAbaA A being the refrain.
    5. written with a "persistent" refrain, often at L2, sometimes L4 and the last line of each stanza.

      Balada by Jan Haag

  • Desdansa is from the same era and is written with the same frame as the Dansa but it is the opposite in content. While the Dansa is joyful, the Desdansa is a sad, tortured verse.

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