The Poetry Archive needs your help to remain free-of-charge

Our supporters are very special people. They are poetry lovers who want to help others to share in the transformational power of the written word by ensuring the Archive can remain free-of-charge for everyone. We now attract over 5 million visits per year from teachers, children, poets and people just like you. If you can, please consider making a donation, signing up to our Insider, or becoming a Member today. Thank you!

Latest Poet

Poet

13 poems available

Paul Groves is a poet, critic and Creative Writing Lecturer, a staple of British literary periodicals over a five-decade career. He has won many accolades, including an Eric Gregory Award (1976) and The Times Literary Supplement prize twice (1986, 2007), and has…

Latest Collection

Collection

We were very sad to hear of the passing of the great poet John Burnside recently and wanted to celebrate his life and wonderful poems. We are very proud to have his recordings on the Archive and to be able…

From the glossary

B

Ballad

Strictly, a ballad is a form of poetry that alternates lines of four and three beats, often in quatrains, rhymed abab, and often telling a story - the anonymous poem 'Sir Patrick Spens' and Wordsworth's "A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal" demonstrate this well. The alternating sequence of four and three stresses is sometimes called common measure, especially when used for hymns. It is an appropriate name, as it is a very common form, with examples found from medieval lyrics to contemporary birthday cards, and is often the form used on TV when the scriptwriters want a character to have written a poem.

Within the Archive, Brian Patten's use of the form in 'Geography Lesson' echoes John Masefield's sea ballads, making the teacher's failure to explore the seas more poignant; Robert Minhinnick's 'Yellow Palm', the only strongly-rhymed poem in his reading, uses the form's familiarity to temper the political anger that it contains. It is also a form that can survive the bending of its rules, as in the case of Causley's 'Miller's End' - this has tetrametric lines throughout, but retains the flavour, the forward motion of the form. However, Sebastian Barker's poem 'The Articles of Prayer', while it does use the ballad metre, is lacking a narrative and would therefore not normally be called a ballad.

Is the wholly trimeter rhythm of 'The Ride', by Richard Wilbur, enough to stop this poem from being a ballad, even though it meets the other characteristics?

Subscribe to the Archive Insider to receive poetry recordings, interviews and news

Using the archive
ico-l-discover

Discover

Browse thousands of poems and use the many pathways through the website to explore and connect with new poetry

ico-l-listen

Listen

Connect with the poet's voice as they speak their own poems

ico-l-collect

Collect

Curate your very own archive collection and playlists of your favourite poems by creating your free account

Become a member today and create your own archive for FREE

What is the Poetry Archive?

The Poetry Archive is the only charity wholly dedicated to the production, acquisition and preservation of recordings of significant poets reading their work aloud.

We care for and preserve these uniquely valuable voices, which might otherwise be lost, so that future generations can continue to enjoy them. We make our own recordings of poets who write in the English language, and poets also donate copies of their own archives to us so we can look after them in the long term. Hearing how a poet speaks their own poems brings us a deeper level of understanding and enjoyment of the work and provides a rich resource for poetry lovers, explorers, teachers and students of all ages. We have a fundamental belief that poetry is for everyone so, as a charity, the funds we raise are used to record new poets and keep sharing these wonderful collections free-of-charge with you.

Teach poetry to your class

The Poetry Archive is a fantastic resource to support teaching inside and outside the classroom for any age and stage. You can curate and save your own playlists to share with your students.

To inspire and support you we have gathered suggestions, tips and resources and classroom materials for all Key Stages built around Poetry Archive recordings. You'll find these in our dedicated Teaching area within our Children's Poetry Archive. All resources are freely available and offer lively and engaging ways of working with poetry. We love working in partnership - if you have ideas how our collections can enhance your work, please get in touch.

The Children's Poetry Archive

The Children's Poetry Archive was designed with the younger, or younger-at-heart, visitor in mind. Poetry doesn't just live in books - it lives in the sounds that words make and we think poetry should be free and fun for children to listen to whenever and wherever they can get online. Our collections of poems read out loud by the poets who wrote them breathes new life into poetry and this site offers some easy new functions to listen, collect and share favourite poems with your

We are grateful to the TS Eliot Foundation for their support for this website.

Support the archive

The Poetry Archive is an entirely not-for-profit organisation with a mission to record every significant poet reading their own work aloud and make this poetry freely available to everyone.

We can only do this with your help. This ambitious and valuable project succeeds because of the generosity of people who share our passion to grow and care for this vital heritage. Every £1 we raise contributes directly to our recordings programme. You have already helped us by becoming a visitor to our website, so thank you for that! You can help us record more poets by joining us as a Member of the Archive and truly get connected to the work we do.

5 Reason to become a Member
  • You can help us grow this vital heritage of poetry and ensure we can keep it safe for future generations to enjoy
  • You can gain access to thousands of poems exclusive to our Members
  • You can dedicate a poem to someone's memory, or to celebrate an anniversary or achievement, or simply because you love them
  • You are directly supporting poets and their careers when you become a Member and use your credits to download their work
  • You can get connected to our behind-the-scenes work through Member newsletters and gain early-bird or discounted access to a range of events and special offers
Close