The word ballad derives from the French word ballade, meaning dancing songs. They were very popular in the British Isles from the late medieval times until the 1800s. The more lyrical form is believed to originate from Germany and Scandinavia. They were made to be accompanied by dances. Western Europeans tended to write theirs as quatrains in an abcb rhyme scheme. They are usually very heavily influenced by the time and place they were made in.
by: Guido Cavalcanti
Light do I see within my Lady’s eyes
And loving spirits in its plenisphere
Which bear in strange delight on my heart’s care
Till Joy’s awakened from that sepulchre.
That which befalls me in my Lady’s presence
Bars explanation intellectual.
I seem to see a lady wonderful
Spring forth between her lips, one whom no sense
Can fully tell the mind of, and one whence
Another, in beauty, springeth marvelous,
From whom a star goes forth and speaketh thus:
"Now my salvation is gone forth from thee."
There where this Lady’s loveliness appeareth,
Is heard a voice which goes before her ways
And seems to sing her name with such sweet praise
That my mouth fears to speak what name she beareth,
And my heart trembles for the grace she weareth,
While far in my soul’s deep the sighs astir
Speak thus: "Look well! For if thou look on her,
Then shalt thou see her virtue risen in heaven."