Originally, Ballads were never written down, they were memorized, sang, and passed down from generation to generation. They were generally about love, religion, tragedy, and even political affairs. Ballads ares song-like poems driven by a plot and a fast moving sequence of events. It didn't start to get popular to write ballads down on paper and sell them until the fifteenth century during the Renaissance period, but even with the poems getting more attention, the author were still in the lower class and didn't make too much money over them.
One of the Down and Out--that's me. Stare at me well, ay, stare! Stare and shrink--say! you wouldn't think that I was a millionaire. Look at my face, it's crimped and gouged--one of them death-mask things; Don't seem the sort of man, do I, as might be the pal of kings? Slouching along in smelly rags, a bleary-eyed, no-good bum; A knight of the hollow needle, pard, spewed from the sodden slum. Look me all over from head to foot; how much would you think I was worth? A dollar? a dime? a nickel? Why, I'm the wealthiest man on earth.
No, don't you think that I'm off my base. You'll sing a different tune If only you'll let me spin my yarn. Come over to this saloon; Wet my throat--it's as dry as chalk, and seeing as how it's you, I'll tell the tale of a Northern trail, and so help me God, it's true. I'll tell of the howling wilderness and the haggard Arctic heights, Of a reckless vow that I made, and how I staked the Northern Lights.