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The ballade was a verse form consisting of three stanzas, each with the same metre, rhyme scheme and last line, with a shorter concluding stanza (an envoi). (The ballade should not be confused with the ballad.)

The ballade is particularly associated with French poetry of the 14th and 15th centuries. One of the most notable writers of ballades was François Villon; Geoffrey Chaucer also wrote in the form. It was revivied in the 19th century by English-language poets including Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne.

Also in the 19th century, the title was applied to four short piano pieces by Frederic Chopin. A number of other composers subsequently used the title for similar works.