Welcome to The British Literary Ballads Archive, a site dedicated to a unique genre of literary imitations of traditional ballads. The site contains a growing archive of over 700 poems, as well as short biographical sketches of the poets who wrote them.

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Louis MacNeice (1907-63)

English poet and radio playwright, born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1907, and brought up in Carrickfergus, CountyAntrim, where his father was a rector of the Church of Ireland. Educated at Merton College, Oxford where he took a first in Greats and met W. H. Auden (1907-73) and Stephen Spender (1909-95). After graduation, he taught Classics at the University of Birmingham from 1929 to 1936. His poetry was much influenced by classical literature, and his verse translation The Agamemnon of Aeschylus was published in 1936. During the 1930s MacNeice was one of the leading members of the left-wing English poets, and through his contributions to New Verse he became known as a poet. He accomplished two majaor poetical achievements: one is his effective exploitation of assonance, internal rhymes, and half rhymes in making poems; and the other is the use of techniques which often appear in ballads such as refrain-like repetitions which he had absorbed from something Irish in his childhood. MacNeice collaborated with Auden on Letters from Iceland (1937). In 1941 he joined the BBC. For the last twenty years of his life he was on the permanent staff of the BBC to create and produce programmes in the Features Department. The Dark Tower (1947) is his best-known work for radio. Although he was overshadowed by Auden in 1930s and 40s, he is now regarded as the most important poet of the 1930s after Auden. (H. N.)

1.The Streets of Laredo