To this day, ballads are still enjoyed by some individuals; many generations ago they were at the very heart of amusement. Passed on orally, they centred such interesting subjects as tragic love. Typically, although ballads are fairly simple, in that they do not tend to focus on characterization, they have a rapid dialogue, and are usually in the form of quatrains, and rhyming in abcb. As a traditional ballad "Bonny Barbara Allan" employs these traditional qualities and conventions: it is written in quatrains with an abcb rhyming scheme pattern, employs rapid dialogues, displays a lack of characterization and deals with tragic love.
The most noticeable feature of this ballad is the four line stanzas rhyming in abcb. When the second and the fourth stanza are not actual rhyme, the poet uses an approximate rhyme. We can count three actual rhymes and six approximate rhymes. The opening quatrain's first and second stanza consists of an approximate rhyme:
It was in and about the Martinmas time,
When the green leaves were a falling,
That Sir John Graeme, in the West Country,
Fell in love with Barbara Allan.
Other approximate rhyme can be found in the second, fourth, fifth, sixth, and eighth quatrain as for the actual rhyme they are present in the third, seventh and ninth quatrain. The first actual rhyme is:
O hooly, hooly rose she up,
To the place where he was lying,
And when she drew the curtain by,
"Young man, I think you're dying." (Line 9-12)
The rapid dialogues create the impression that there is a causal link between Barbara Allan and Sir John Graeme although, they never speak directly to each other. It also creates a more dramatic tone. Before each dialogue, there is an introductory stanza which breaks the actual conversation into...