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Ballads in Blue China   By: (1844-1912)

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This etext was produced from the 1911 Longmans, Green and Co. "Ballades and Rhymes" edition by David Price, email

Ballads in Blue China and Verses and Translations

by Andrew Lang

Introduction BALLADES IN BLUE CHINA. Ballade of Theocritus Ballade of Cleopatra's Needle Ballade of Roulette Ballade of Sleep Ballade of the Midnight Forest Ballade of the Tweed Ballade of the Book hunter Ballade of the Voyage to Cythera Ballade of the Summer Term Ballade of the Muse Ballade against the Jesuits Ballade of Dead Cities Ballade of the Royal Game of Golf Double Ballade of Primitive Man Ballade of Autumn Ballade of True Wisdom Ballade of Worldly Wealth Ballade of Life Ballade of Blue China Ballade of Dead Ladies Villon's Ballade of Good Counsel Ballade of the Bookworm Valentine in form of Ballade Ballade of Old Plays Ballade of his Books Ballade of the Dream Ballade of the Southern Cross Ballade of Aucassin Ballade Amoureuse Ballade of Queen Anne Ballade of Blind Love Ballade of his Choice of a Sepulchre Dizain VERSES AND TRANSLATIONS. A Portrait of 1783 The Moon's Minion In Ithaca Homer The Burial of Moliere Bion Spring Before the Snow Villanelle Natural Theology The Odyssey Ideal The Fairy's Gift Benedetta Ramus Partant pour la Scribie St. Andrews Bay Woman and the Weed

"Rondeaux, BALLADES, Chansons dizains, propos menus, Compte moy qu'ils sont devenuz: Se faict il plus rien de nouveau?" CLEMENT MAROT, Dialogue de deux Amoureux.

"I love a ballad but even too well; if it be doleful matter, merrily set down, or a very pleasant thing indeed, and sung lamentably." A Winter's Tale, Act iv. sc. 3.


Thirty years have passed, like a watch in the night, since the earlier of the two sets of verses here reprinted, Ballades in Blue China, was published. At first there were but twenty two Ballades; ten more were added later. They appeared in a little white vellum wrapper, with a little blue Chinese singer copied from a porcelain jar; and the frontispiece was a little design by an etcher now famous.

Thirty years ago blue china was a kind of fetish in some circles, aesthetic circles, of which the balladist was not a member.

The ballade was an old French form of verse, in France revived by Theodore de Banville, and restored to an England which had long forgotten the Middle Ages, by my friends Mr. Austin Dobson and Mr. Edmund Gosse. They, so far as I can trust my memory, were the first to reintroduce these pleasant old French nugae, while an anonymous author let loose upon the town a whole winged flock of ballades of amazing dexterity. This unknown balladist was Mr. Henley; perhaps he was the first Englishman who ever burst into a double ballade, and his translations of two of Villon's ballades into modern thieves' slang were marvels of dexterity. Mr. Swinburne wrote a serious ballade, but the form, I venture to think, is not 'wholly serious,' of its nature, in modern days; and he did not persevere. Nor did the taste for these trifles long endure. A good ballade is almost as rare as a good sonnet, but a middling ballade is almost as easily written as the majority of sonnets. Either form readily becomes mechanical, cheap and facile. I have heard Mr. George Meredith improvise a sonnet, a Petrarchian sonnet, obedient to the rules, without pen and paper. He spoke 'and the numbers came'; he sonneted as easily as a living poet, in his Eton days, improvised Latin elegiacs and Greek hexameters.

The sonnet endures. Mr. Horace Hutchinson wrote somewhere: "When you have read a sonnet, you feel that though there does not seem to be much of it, you have done a good deal, as when you have eaten a cold hard boiled egg." Still people keep on writing sonnets, because the sonnet is wholly serious... Continue reading book >>

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