The Ballad began in European folk tradition. Most often, accompanied by music. Ballads were passed on from generation to generation orally, in other words recited, rather than transcribed. It wasn't until the fifteenth century that ballads made their way to print. Eventually, this poetry form turned into a "sport" for writers. Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote one of the most revered ballads of all times: "Rime of the Ancient Mariner."
by John Phan
It is an ancient mariner
And he stoppeth one of three.
--"By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stoppest thou me?
The bridegroom's doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
Mayst hear the merry din."
He holds him with his skinny hand,
"There was a ship," quoth he.
"Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"
Eftsoons his hand dropped he.
He holds him with his glittering eye
-- The wedding-guest stood still,
And listens like a three-years' child:
The mariner hath his will.