Homer’s Iliad is the first great work of Western literature. Composed in twenty-four books of Greek hexameter poetry, it portrays the events of the last year of the Trojan War. Its translation into rhyming couplets by Alexander Pope is considered by some the greatest act of translation in English. Its power sweeps the reader along through an epic tale that begins with the wrath of Achilles and ends with the burial of Hector, breaker of horses.
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is attributed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India, the other being Mahabharata. It is the story of Rama, who embarks on an epic journey followed by the fight with Ravana, the demon king who abducted Rama's wife, Sita. The epic depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal wife and the ideal king.
The Ramayan is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is attributed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India, the other being Mahabharata. It is the story of Rama, who embarks on an epic journey followed by the fight with Ravana, the demon king who abducted Rama's wife, Sita. The epic depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal wife and the ideal king.
The Iliad, together with the Odyssey, is one of two ancient Greek epic poems traditionally attributed to Homer. The poem is commonly dated to the 8th or 7th century BC, and many scholars believe it is the oldest extant work of literature in the Greek language, making it the first work of European literature. The existence of a single author for the poems is disputed as the poems themselves show evidence of a long oral tradition and hence, multiple authors. The poem concerns events during the tenth and final year in the siege of the city of Iliun, or Troy, by the Greeks.
Chesterton, G. K.
An English epic poem that follows the exploits of Alfred the Great in his defense of Christian civilization in England from the heathen nihilism of the North. Following a string of defeats at the hands of the invading Danes, a vision from heaven in the river island of Athelney fills Alfred with joy and hope. Though it gives no promise of victory in the coming struggle, it inspires him to rally his chieftains for a last stand against the invading hordes. His adventures lead throughout the country as he gathers his men, and take him through the Danish camps disguised as a minstrel before culminating in the Battle of Ethandune and the prophesying of the enemy's subtle return in the ages to come.
The Divine Comedy (Italian: Commedia, later christened "Divina" by Giovanni Boccaccio), written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321, is widely considered the central epic poem of Italian literature, the last great work of literature of the Middle Ages and the first great work of the Renaissance. A culmination of the medieval world-view of the afterlife, it establishes the Tuscan dialect in which it is written as the Italian standard, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature. - The Divine Comedy is composed of three canticas (or "cantiche") — Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise) — composed each of 33 cantos (or "canti"). The very first canto serves as an introduction to the poem and is generally not considered to be part of the first cantica, bringing the total number of cantos to 100. - The poet tells in the first person his travel through the three realms of the dead, lasting during the Easter Triduum in the spring of 1300.
The Hunting of the Snark - "An Agony in 8 Fits" is typically categorized as a nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll, the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Written from 1874 to 1876, the poem borrows the setting, some creatures, and eight portmanteau words from Carroll's earlier poem "Jabberwocky" in his children's novel Through the Looking Glass. Carroll often denied knowing the meaning behind the poem; however, in an 1896 reply to one letter, he agreed with one interpretation of the poem as an allegory for the search for happiness. Scholars have found various meanings in the poem, among them existential angst, an allegory for tuberculosis, and a mockery of the Tichborne case. I just found it to be great fun to read. (Phil Chenevert)
John Avery Lomax is a towering figure in the field of early American musicology and folklore. Through intensive field work, Lomax built up the core body of work for the Library of Congress Archive. "Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads" is his collection that propelled him to the forefront of his field and ignited new interest in American folklore, inspiring many to continue research. For his contributions to the field of cowboy music, Locas was inducted into the Western Music Hall of Fame in 2010. Many of the verses here are accompanied by musical scores, and some may be more familiar in their musical form such as "A Home on the Range." A wide array of characters and life across the western United States is represented here.
"The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set in the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of Ilium, by a coalition of Greek States, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles. Although the story covers only a few weeks in the final year of the war, the Iliad mentions or alludes to many of the Greek legends about the siege"
Byron, George Gordon, Lord
"The Giaour" is a poem by Lord Byron first published in 1813 and the first in the series of his Oriental romances. "The Giaour" proved to be a great success when published, consolidating Byron's reputation critically and commercially.
In this saga, the events that led to Eirik the Red's banishment to Greenland are chronicled, as well as Leif Eirikson's discovery of Vinland the Good (a place where wheat and grapes grew naturally), after his longboat was blown off-course. By geographical details, this place is surmised to be present-day Newfoundland, and is likely the first European discovery of the American mainland, some five centuries before Christopher Columbus's journey.
A young soldier born among Tartars but sired by the mighty Persian lord Rustum, serves in the Tartar army, seeking his great father. To this end, he persuades his general to call a truce and arrange for him to challenge the Persians to single combat. Should he prevail, his father will learn his whereabouts and come to him, or so he thinks, for Sohrab is unaware that his mother, fearing to lose her son, wrote to Rustum that their child was a girl. The Persians agree but have no champion until it is learned that they have recently been joined by Rustum. Although the great hero is contemplating retirement, he reluctantly agrees to be the Persians' champion provided that he may fight unknown. As a result the two warriors engage in a contest that must lead to their mutual grief regardless of who wins—unless they happen to discover their relationship before it is too late. They continually approach but fail to make this discovery until it can no longer give them joy. This tragic poem, like Oedipus Rex, is a sustained piece of dramatic irony, but it differs from that play both in that it is in epic style (though only a episode) and in that the secret which hovers so close to disclosure would produce a happy ending were it ever to break forth.
Volunteers bring you 10 recordings of Up The Line by Will Carleton. This was the Fortnightly Poetry project for February 7th, 2010.
W. S. Gilbert
The Bab Ballads are a collection of light verse by W. S. Gilbert, illustrated with his own comic drawings. Gilbert wrote the Ballads before he became famous for his comic opera librettos with Arthur Sullivan. In writing the Bab Ballads, Gilbert developed his unique "topsy-turvy" style, where the humor was derived by setting up a ridiculous premise and working out its logical consequences, however absurd. The Ballads also reveal Gilbert's cynical and satirical approach to humor. They became famous on their own, as well as being a source for plot elements, characters and songs that Gilbert would recycle in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. The Bab Ballads take their name from Gilbert's childhood nickname, and he later began to sign his illustrations "Bab".
Nothing else quite like the Ballads has ever been produced in the English language. They contain both satire and nonsense, as well as a great deal of utter absurdity. The Ballads were read aloud at private dinner-parties, public banquets and even in the House of Lords. Summary by Wikipedia and Phil Chenevert
G. K. Chesterton
The Ballad of the White Horse is a poem by G K Chesterton about the idealized exploits of the Saxon King Alfred the Great, published in 1911. Written in ballad form, the work is usually considered an epic poem. The poem narrates how Alfred was able to defeat the invading Danes at the Battle of Ethandun under the auspices of God working through the agency of the Virgin Mary. In addition to being a narration of Alfred's militaristic and political accomplishments, it is also considered a Catholic allegory. Chesterton incorporates a significant amount of philosophy into the basic structure of the story.
G. K. Chesterton
This epic poem is about Alfred the Great's defense of Christian England against the pagan Viking invaders. The decisive battle is fought in sight of a white horse mark made on a hill, after which the poem is named. As the white horse mark must be continually maintained by weeding to be clearly seen, Chesterton sees it as a symbol of the continual struggle to maintain the Christian culture and values for which Alfred the Great fought.
Paradise Regained is a poem by the 17th century English poet John Milton, published in 1671. It is connected by name to his earlier and more famous epic poem Paradise Lost, with which it shares similar theological themes. Based on the Gospel of Luke's version of the Temptation of Christ, Paradise Regained is more thoughtful in writing style, and thrives upon the imagery of Jesus' perfection in contrast to the shame of Satan.
Ralph Chaplin and many other prominent members of the Industrial Workers of the World were imprisoned under the Espionage Act of 1917 as the United States entered World War I. As with Socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs, these activists were accused of undermining recruiting efforts and the draft - even of encouraging soldiers to desert. Though they never gained the universal popularity of his anthem "Solidarity Forever," the poems and songs in this volume - composed during his four years in prison - represent the defiant attitude of a true rebel in the face of persecution.
The most famous piece of Old English literature, Beowulf was written by an unknown poet at least 1000 years ago and tells how the eponymous hero who is a great warrior defeats the monster Grendel and his mother. He later goes on to rule the Geats before dying killing another foe, a dragon. This metered translation was made by John Lesslie Hall
George Gordon, Lord Byron
Don Juan is a long narrative poem by Byron, based very loosely on the legend of the evil seducer, Don Juan. The first and second of (eventually) seventeen Cantos composed during Byron's self-imposed exile from England appeared, anonymously, in July 1819 and were greeted with scandal, condemnation, admiration and hilarity. Modern critics generally consider the self-proclaimed 'epic', which remained incomplete at Byron's death, to be his masterpiece.
Paradise Lost is the first epic of English literature written in the classical style. John Milton saw himself as the intellectual heir of Homer, Virgil, and Dante, and sought to create a work of art which fully represented the most basic tenets of the Protestant faith. His work, which was dictated from memory and transcribed by his daughter, remains as one of the most powerful English poems.
Vergilius Maro, Publius
The Aeneid is a Latin epic written by Virgil in the 1st century BC that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. The first six of the poem's twelve books tell the story of Aeneas' wanderings from Troy to Italy, and the poem's second half treats the Trojans' ultimately victorious war upon the Latins, under whose name Aeneas and his Trojan followers are destined to be subsumed. The poem was commissioned from Vergil by the Emperor Augustus to glorify Rome. Several critics think that the hero Aeneas' abandonment of the Cartheginian Queen Dido, is meant as a statement of how Augustus' enemy, Mark Anthony, should have behaved with the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. (Summay by Wikipedia and Karen Merline)
The Aeneid is a Latin epic written by Virgil in the 1st century BC that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. The first six of the poem’s twelve books tell the story of Aeneas’ wanderings from Troy to Italy, and the poem’s second half treats the Trojans’ ultimately victorious war upon the Latins, under whose name Aeneas and his Trojan followers are destined to be subsumed. The poem was commissioned from Virgil by the Emperor Augustus to glorify Rome. Several critics think that the hero Aeneas’ abandonment of the Carthaginian Queen Dido, is meant as a statement of how Augustus’ enemy, Mark Anthony, should have behaved with the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra.
This work is a unique rendering of the Bagavad Gita by a well known poet. It is faithful to the text and yet does not read like a translation.The Sanskrit original is written in the Anushtubh metre. It has been cast into flexible blank verse by Sir Arnold, changing into lyrical measures where the text itself similarly breaks. In his autobiography, Gandhi has called this work the book par excellence for the Knowledge of Truth and that it afforded him invaluable help in his moments of gloom.
The Aeneid is the most famous Latin epic poem, written by Virgil in the 1st century BC. The story revolves around the legendary hero Aeneas, a Trojan prince who left behind the ruins of his city and led his fellow citizens to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. The first six of the poem’s twelve books tell the story of Aeneas’ wanderings from Troy to Italy, while the poem’s second half treats the Trojans’ victorious war upon the Latins. This is the recording of J.W.MacKail's prose translation.
Troyes, Chrétien de
Yvain, the Knight of the Lion is a romance by Chrétien de Troyes. It was probably written in the 1170s simultaneously with Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, and includes several references to the action in that poem. In the poem, Yvain seeks to avenge his cousin Calogrenant who had been defeated by an otherworldly knight beside a magical storm-making fountain in the forest of Broceliande.
Beowulf was composed by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet. Francis Barton Gummere translates this beautiful poem. Beowulf is an epic poem. The main character, Beowulf, proves himself a hero as he battles against supernatural demons and beasts.
As Vergil had surpassed Homer by adapting the epic form to celebrate the origin of the author’s nation, Milton developed it yet further to recount the origin of the human race itself and, in particular, the origin of and the remedy for evil; this is what he refers to as “things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.”
After a statement of its purpose, the poem plunges, like its epic predecessors, into the midst of the action, shockingly bringing to the front the traditional visit to the underworld, for Satan’s malice is the mainspring of the negative action. But at the center of the poem lies the triumph by the Son of God over the angelic rebels, which counteracts Satan’s evil design. To preview this pattern, the fallen angels’ council in hell is counterbalanced by a council in heaven, in which the Son offers himself as a scapegoat for mankind long before the original sin has been committed.
With this background, the narrator introduces us to Eden and our “Grand Parents.” Satan is detected spying on them and is expelled from the garden, after which God sends an angel to tutor Adam and Eve in the history of the heavenly war that has led to the present situation. At Adam's request, the heavenly guest then recounts the creation of the visible world, explaining also the proper nature of development, whereby all things proceed from lower to higher by refining that which nourishes them.
Satan, however, returning in the form of a snake, offers Eve an evolutionary shortcut in the form of a magical food capable of endowing her with super powers. He claims it has conferred on him both reason and speech. Since Eve is suffering at the moment from a fancied slight to her moral strength, she allows herself to forget her recent lesson and yields to this temptation. Adam, unable to imagine life without Eve (and failing to explore alternatives to sin), accepts the fruit from her and eats as well.
Satan’s triumph is short-lived, for although hell and the world of mankind are now linked by a broad highway, he and his followers are humiliated in hell by being turned involuntarily into snakes every year.
Whatever their reasons, both Adam and Eve have disobeyed their Maker’s sole command, and both are condemned to mortality and expulsion from the garden, but before they leave they are vouchsafed another history lesson, this time of the world to come: the progress of sin, the Savior’s coming, and the growth of the church.
Pronunciation: Although a Cambridge M.A., Milton was born and raised in Cheapside, within earshot of the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow, which would make him a Cockney, and the educated dialect which he spoke more nearly resembled the speech of modern Ireland or Ohio than of today's London. Therefore no British accent has been used for this recording, with rare exceptions like making shone rhyme with gone, as Milton's spelling shon specifies. For the most part, modern pronunciation has been employed, as Milton would doubtless have preferred, being so self-consciously avant garde as, for example, to require by his spelling that participles be clipped (e.g., despis'd, rang'd, stretcht) rather than given the syllabic -ed ending. However, he was equally firm about specifying personal preferences that have not survived in standard English on either side of the Atlantic, such as hunderd, heighth, sate (for sat), and elisions like th'ocean. Although blind, he meticulously checked the proofs of his poems and sent his publisher lists of errata with spelling corrections like these. He even distinguished between their and thir, me and mee. Wherever possible these distinctions have been respected. Research has also determined that he probably gave long vowels to the -able suffix and to the syllable -ube in cherube, but since there is little to be gained by honoring such idiosyncracies, they have not been consistently preserved. On the other hand, metrical considerations demand pronunciations such as SUpreme, blasPHEmous, REcepTAcle, and even ACcepTAble and unACcepTAble. Yet, even where corroborative evidence can be found in Shakespeare or elsewhere, such bizarre pronunciations have been kept to a minimum if the meter can be preserved without deviating from modern pronunciation (TRIumph has generally been preferred to triUMPH and inVISible to INviSIble).
The Text: Because the Rev. H. C. Beeching, editor of the volume, was sensitive to the importance of Milton's spelling and apostrophes, his text provides ample support for the pronunciations employed in this reading. However, the reader is encouraged to pay attention to the notes at the end of each book, to which Beeching has consigned some of Milton's maturest artistic decisions.
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth
I sing the Song of Hiawatha,
Brave of heart and strong of arm.
Daughter's son of old Nokomis,
Fathered by the harsh West Wind.
With its regular, beating rhythm, the Song of Hiawatha has often been parodied, but in truth, it is a powerful, emotional epic; a hero's life, his loves and suffering. The legends and traditions of the North American Indian swirl together through the tale like a mountain stream, tumbling white over the rocks, and caressing the mossy tree roots.
The Song of Roland is an epic poem, originally sung in Old French. It tells the story of the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in 778. This is an English translation.
The First Crusade provides the backdrop for a rich tapestry of political machinations, military conflicts, martial rivalries, and love stories, some of which are complicated by differences in religion. The supernatural plays a major role in the action. Partly on this account, and partly because of the multilayered, intertwined plots, the poem met with considerable contemporary criticism, so Tasso revised it radically and published the revision under a new name, La Gerusalemme Conquistata, or "Jerusalem Conquered," which has remained virtually unread, a warning to authors who pay attention to the critics.
The original poem influenced Edmund Spenser, whose unfinished epic, The Faerie Queene, is still more complicated in plot than Tasso's poem and, being an allegory, affords the supernatural an even greater share in the action. In Milton's Paradise Lost, the council in hell (first half of Book II) owes much to Tasso's similar scene in Book IV. (Someone with sufficient background in Old English might profitably compare the tirade of Satan in Book IV to the remarkably similar speech of Satan in the Anglo-Saxon Genesis.) Moreover, Milton's decision to write in English rather than in Latin, then the language of international discourse, was due in part to his visit to Tasso's patron, Giovanni Battista Manso, who advised him as he had advised Torquato Tasso before him, to dignify his native language by employing his talents in bold defiance of custom and precedent. Had Petrarch had the benefit of Manso's advice, his great epic, The Africa, might now eclipse his off-hour doodlings, the sonnets about Laura.
The text is the Gutenberg Project's version, corrected in certain places by consulting editions, also in the public domain, published in 1749, 1844, 1845, and 1901; A Dictionary of the Italian and English Languages, by Joseph Baretti (Venice, 1795); The Oxford English Dictionary; and an edition of La Gerusaleme liberata itself (Paris: Victor Masson, 1836).
The Odysseys are a collection of stories about Ulysses' journey home from the war at Troy purportedly written in the 8th century BCE by Homer, a blind poet thought to have lived in the Greek colonies in Asia Minor, possibly at Smyrna. The events described are thought to have occurred centuries before being recorded by Homer, handed down orally since the twelfth century BCE, the golden era of the Greek Bronze Age when the world was populated by heroic mortals and often visited by the Gods. This verse translation in couplets by George Chapman was originally published in 1616, the first translation from the ancient Greek directly to English, although likely influenced by previous Latin translations. Chapman's translation has been admired by many, including John Keats and others. Many of these stories are familiar to us, Ulysses and the Sirens, Circe turning his crew to swine, their escape from the Cyclops on the bellies of his sheep, but Chapman's version includes violent episodes and suggestive innuendo that I don't recall from my childhood days.
Romesh C Dutt
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. Traditionally, the authorship of the Mahabharata is attributed to Vyasa. With more than 74,000 verses, Mahabharata is said to be the longest poem. Mahabharata tells the story of the epic Kurukshetra War and the fates of the cousin brothers Kauravas and the Pandavas. But more than that the Mahabharata contains much philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life" or 'purusharthas'. The latter are enumerated as dharma (right action), artha (purpose), kama (pleasure), and moksha (liberation).
Alfred Noyes, in the blank-verse epic "Drake", fictionalizes the historical Francis Drake, who, during the reign of Elizabeth I of England, sailed (and plundered) on the Spanish Main and beyond.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
There are few modern poems of any country so perfect in their kind as the "Hermann and Dorothea" of Goethe. In clearness of characterization, in unity of tone, in the adjustment of background and foreground, in the conduct of the narrative, it conforms admirably to the strict canons of art; yet it preserves a freshness and spontaneity in its emotional appeal that are rare in works of so classical a perfection in form.
The basis of the poem is a historical incident. In the year 1731 the Archbishop of Salzburg drove out of his diocese a thousand Protestants, who took refuge in South Germany, and among whom was a girl who became the bride of the son of a rich burgher. The occasion of the girl's exile was changed by Goethe to more recent times, and in the poem she is represented as a German from the west bank of the Rhine fleeing from the turmoil caused by the French Revolution. The political element is not a mere background, but is woven into the plot with consummate skill, being used, at one point, for example, in the characterization of Dorothea, who before the time of her appearance in the poem has been deprived of her first betrothed by the guillotine; and, at another, in furnishing a telling contrast between the revolutionary uproar in France and the settled peace of the German village.
The characters of the father and the minister Goethe took over from the original incident, the mother he invented, and the apothecary he made to stand for a group of friends. But all of these persons, as well as the two lovers, are recreated, and this so skillfully that while they are made notably familiar to us as individuals, they are no less significant as permanent types of human nature. The hexameter measure which he employed, and which is retained in the present translation, he handled with such charm that it has since seemed the natural verse for the domestic idyl—witness the obvious imitation of this, as of other features of the poem, in Longfellow's "Evangeline."
Taken as a whole, with its beauty of form, its sentiment, tender yet restrained, and the compelling pathos of its story, "Hermann and Dorothea" appeals to a wider public than perhaps any other product of its author.
Lucan's only surviving work, De Bello Civili, more generally known as the Pharsalia, is an epic poem about the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great. The title given by posterity to the poem refers to the Battle of Pharsalus, which took place in 48 BC near the city of Pharsalus, in Thessaly. The work is important as an example of Roman Historic Epic, since divine intervention plays little part in the narrative and very few supernatural occurrences happen in the story. Lucan's Civil War is considered a major expression of literature from the Neronian times, and has attracted renewed scholarly attention in the past decades. The work remains unfinished, due to the untimely death of its author.
Sir Walter Scott
Marmion is an epic poem in six cantos, written in emulation of the ancient Scottish minstrel style which was of such great interest to Scott. Unlike its predecessor, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, this one contains "introductions" to each canto, in the guise of poetic letters which serve the purpose of linking the ancient historical setting with Scott's contemporaneous society - a device which attracted some criticism.
The story of Lord Marmion and his arch-enemy Harold de Wilton is told with Scott's familiar swirling dark flair, combining a complex tale of intrigue, inconstancy and deception with the historical details of the Battle of Flodden Field, in which the English forces routed those of Scotland, killing the Scottish king.
This is a collection of ballads, edited, with an introduction and notes by Andrew Lang. The ballads range widely in style, from the historic to the romantic, from the short to the epic, from Scotland to France. Some of the material is the fabric of well-known fairy-tales, others have a historical core, and again others are myths. In any case, every reader and listener should be able to find a poem in this collection that matches their particular style or mood.
Verses, Popular and Humorous (1900) was the second collection of poems by Australian poet Henry Lawson. It features some of the poet's earlier major works, including "The Lights of Cobb and Co", "Saint Peter" and "The Grog-An'-Grumble-Steeplechase". Most of the poems in the volume had been written after the publication of In the Days When the World was Wide and Other Verses in 1896.
The original collection includes 66 poems by the author that are reprinted from various sources. Later publications split the collection into two separate volumes: Popular Verses and Humorous Verses, though the contents differed from the original list.
Horatio Alger, Jr.
Horatio Alger, better known for his juvenile fiction, also penned some great poetry. His Ballads, including the 8 war poems and his odes, are collected in this volume.
Eleanor Mary Smith-Dampier
In these translations from the Danish the author attempted to adhere strictly to the metres of the original, however in some, where this was not possible, she developed her own interpretations.
Gilbert, W. S.
This is a subset of the second collection of Gilbert’s “Bab Ballads” – light verses poking fun at the life and people of his time in Gilbert’s unique “topsy-turvey” style. The epitaph on his memorial on the Victoria Embankment in London is “HIS FOE WAS FOLLY AND HIS WEAPON WIT”, an epitaph amply exemplified in these verses.
Gilbert, W. S.
The Bab Ballads are a collection of light verse by W. S. Gilbert, illustrated with his own comic drawings. Gilbert wrote the Ballads before he became famous for his comic opera librettos with Arthur Sullivan. In writing the Bab Ballads, Gilbert developed his unique "topsy-turvy" style, where the humour was derived by setting up a ridiculous premise and working out its logical consequences, however absurd. The Ballads also reveal Gilbert's cynical and satirical approach to humour. They became famous on their own, as well as being a source for plot elements, characters and songs that Gilbert would recycle in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. The Bab Ballads take their name from Gilbert's childhood nickname, and he later began to sign his illustrations "Bab".