Ballad. In Ukrainian literature the ballad arose out of the folk lyric-epic song (see Folk songs, Lyrical songs) with a tragic ending. The oldest recorded folk ballads appeared in the 16th–18th century: ‘Stefan Voievoda’ (Voivode Stefan), ‘Oi, ne khody, Hrytsiu’ (Don't Go to Parties, Hryts), ‘Pisnia pro Bondarivnu’ (Song about the Cooper's Daughter), etc. Some ballads can be found among the written poetry of the 17th–18th century: several legends in verse by Dymytrii Tuptalo, and certain poems by Klymentii, Zynovii's son, and others. The late classicists and the romantics wrote ballads: Petro Hulak-Artemovsky's ‘Rybalka’ (The Fisherman) was patterned on Johann von Goethe; Levko Borovykovsky's ‘Marusia’ was a Ukrainianized ‘Lenore’ (by G. Bürger). The Kharkiv romantics (see Kharkiv Romantic School) Mykola Kostomarov and Amvrosii Metlynsky composed and translated ballads. The Ukrainian ballad reached its height in the works of Taras Shevchenko: ‘Prychynna’ (The Bewitched Girl), ‘Utoplena’ (The Drowned Girl), ‘Khustyna’ (The Kerchief), and others. In his ballads Shevchenko abandoned the strophic structure, thus bringing them closer to folk songs,. In length his ballads are sometimes similar to romantic poems. Besides historical and fantastic ballads that are typical of the romantic tradition, Shevchenko also wrote sociopolitical ballads. After Shevchenko many other poets wrote ballads, including Panteleimon Kulish, Stepan Rudansky, Mykhailo Starytsky, Ivan Manzhura, Sydir Vorobkevych, Ivan Franko, and Yakiv Shchoholiv. In modern Ukrainian poetry the ballad merges with other types of poetry, and its boundaries become unclear. But balladlike poems can be found in the works of many modern writers such as Mykola Bazhan, Maik Yohansen, and Leonid Pervomaisky. The term ballad is used by contemporary poets (Ivan Drach and his contemporaries) in their titles in an even broader sense.
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]