Lord Randal, the ballad
BalladA ballad is a typical medieval poem.
Ballads originated in Spain and France, where they were sung by minstrels, and arrived in England at the time of Norman Conquest in 1066. Literary ballads were written in 19th century by the Romantic poets.
Originally a ballad had an oral tradition like song, so it has some specifical features: it was accompanied by music, it has a lot of incremental repetitions, formulae, stock phrases, and it has a refrain to be clearer and better memorised. There is also a shift from dialogues to narrations based on question-answer pattern. The dialogues give a dramatic and immediate effect to the story.
The themes are love and death.
The different kind of ballad are: supernatural ballad, outlaws ballad and love ballad.
Lord RandalLord Randal is a supernatural ballad based on the question-answer patter of the dialogue between Lord Randal and his mother.
The greenwood is a sacred wood and in the past it was a place of ritual (the Druids went there). Nobody could go in the greenwood without the permission of the supernatural creatures (fairies, elves…) that lived there.
Lord Randal went to the greenwood where met his true love who gave him some food. After some questions his mother realised he was poisoned and from this moment in the ballad there is a turning point: it become a sort o an oral testament.
The story is told through the dialogue because the writer wanted to give a more immediate, dramatic and authentic tone.
Lord Randal went to the greenwood to break a sacred rule and because he wanted to go beyond the human limits, he wanted to prove his courage, his bravery and his manhood, so he was poisoned by a fairy that seemed to be his true love.