Challenge: a ballad about a hero with anaphora or epistrophe

A ballad tells a dramatic story frequently written in four-line, rhyming verses. Anaphora is repetition of the same word (or words) at the beginning of multiple lines of verse. Epistrophe is its counterpart: repeated words appear at the end of lines.

I decided to use anaphora and write about a man who only imagined he was a hero.


The Fall of Mr. Grossman

Mr. Grossman, a mammoth without hair,
the VIP of the junior high,
announced the news with fleshy lips,
and several girls began to cry.

The teacher of the theater class,
with drama made his call,
his favored one would play the lead.
She was the best of all.

Mr. Grossman weighed three-hundred-three
and sponsored every dance.
He lumbered the floor in challenged shoes
and his signature, belly-stretched pants.

With glutinous eyes and flesh that lapped
he watched for any two locked tight,
then stepped between, and with bad breath,
banished the duo from the site.

Mr. Grossman, who lived with his mom,
and didn’t stint her dinners,
counted the votes for everything
and decided who’d be winners.

His fall came hard; his fall came quick;
‘twas prompted by his rage,
when the teacher, in an angry snit,
tried to leap from off the stage.

onto a wooden folding chair
that shattered ‘neath his weight.
Then Mr. Grossman, a whale aground,
entered an apoplectic state.

Students stared with mouths ajar
as, wearing bits of chair,
he rose and stomped toward the door;
then giggles filled the air.

Not knowing a seam had split and gaped
he turned as laughter swelled;
then at Mr. Grossman, tyrant of teens,
a rowdy student yelled,

“Mr. Grossman, shame, shame on you —
for indecent exposure and yelling,
you’re banished forever from the gym
and your mother we’ll be telling.”



9 thoughts on “Challenge: a ballad about a hero with anaphora or epistrophe

  1. Ha! You may have found your form, Janet. The rhyme and timing in this ballad is awesome. I was there, wondering how far Mr. Grossman would fall and laughing at his expense (feeling bad about it but still giggling as I write so I don’t feel too bad I guess). I failed miserably at this one…but still tried. This is my favorite so far, great writing!


    • Funny that you say this may be my form, Carrie, because it rolled out of me. True, after it rolled, I had to go back and tweak and re-tweak, but even that was easier than with the other poems. Thanks for your constant encouragement. I’ll go to your post next to read how you “failed miserably,” which I’ll believe when I see it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Meeting your daily challenge is for me, a two-fur. I’m enjoying each of your poems and learning a poetry vocabulary that I didn’t know existed. Thank you for the brief definitions of anaphora, epistrophe, elgy, etc. I knew alliteration and limerick but few other words. I’ll read poetry with a new appreciation.


  3. Most of the terminology, and some of the forms, are also new to me. Thank goodness, the instructor provides explanations and examples which I study carefully. I think I’ll read poetry with a new appreciation as well.


  4. Oh, a mighty guffaw, my favorite thing balladry, and vividly gross description, you nailed it, of my music teacher, large, doomed Mr Ryall. He conducted with a long defunct, leaky pen, and he sweated. Any discomfort or stress does not show in your work Janet- it is a delight, thanks.


    • I wonder if Mr. Ryall was separated at birth from my Mr. Grossman? I’m glad you’re not sensing the stress these poems cause me, Sheila. Before I finish some of them, I go out in the garage and chew nails.


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