Narrative poetry is a form of poetry that tells a story, often making the voices of a narrator and characters as well; the entire story is usually written in metered verse. Narrative poems do not need rhyme. The poems that make up this genre may be short or long, and the story it relates to may be complex. It is normally dramatic, with objectives, diverse and meter. Narrative poems include epics, ballads, idylls, and lays.
Some narrative poetry takes the form of a novel in verse. An example of this is The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning. In the terms of narrative poetry, a romance is a narrative poem that tells a story of chivalry. Examples include the Romance of the Rose or Tennyson's Idylls of the King. Although those examples use medieval and Arthurian materials, romances may also tell stories from classical mythology.
Shorter narrative poems are often similar in style to the short story. Sometimes, these short narratives are collected into interrelated groups, as with Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. So sagas include both incidental poetry and the biographies of poets. An example is "The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert Service.
The oral tradition is the predecessor of essentially all other modern forms of communication. For thousands of years, cultures passed on their history through the oral tradition from generation to generation. A clear example of this – and the oldest one – comes from Ancient India, the Vedic Chant, which is often considered the oldest unbroken oral tradition in existence today. In addition, one of the most notable was the ancient Hebrews, people of the Middle East; they were taught and passed on the stories of God in over 115 countries worldwide. The poetry in the Bible is called the Psalms, that capture stories of conquest, failure, confession and more. Some of it is narrative in nature.
Historically, much of poetry has its source in an oral tradition: in more recent times the Scots and English ballads, the tales of Robin Hood, of Iskandar, and various Baltic and Slavic heroic poems all were originally intended for recitation, rather than reading. In many cultures, there remains a lively tradition of the recitation of traditional tales in verse format. It has been suggested that some of the distinctive features that distinguish poetry from prose, such as metre, alliteration and kennings, at one time served as memory aids that allowed the bards who recited traditional tales to reconstruct them from memory.
A narrative poem usually tells a story using a poetic theme. Epics are very vital to narrative poems, although it is thought those narrative poems were created to explain oral traditions. The focus of narrative poetry is often the pros and cons of life.
List of Narrative PoemsEdit
- Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson
- Beowulf, oldest known English poem
- The Book of the Duchess by Geoffrey Chaucer
- The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
- The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
- Crank by Ellen Hopkins
- The Divine Comedy by Dante, Italian epic
- Don Juan by Lord Byron
- The Eve of St. Agnes by John Keats
- Cantar de mio Cid, (anonymous) medieval Spanish epic
- The Elder Edda (anonymous)
- The Iliad and the Odyssey attributed to Homer
- The Epic of Gilgamesh, (anonymous) ancient Babylonian/Sumerian epic
- The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll
- The Kalevala, Finnish national epic
- Lamia by John Keats
- "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes
- The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Os Lusíadas (Portugal's national epic) by Luís de Camões
- The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
- Virgil's Aeneid, the Roman national epic
- Metamorphoses by Ovid
- Statius' Thebaid
- The Prelude by William Wordsworth
- Paul Revere's Ride (The Landlord's Tale) by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- A Mile in His Shoes by Eavin Antony Kunnamkudath
- Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz
- Piers Plowman by William Langland
- The Rape of Lucrece by William Shakespeare
- Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
- Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained by John Milton
- The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
- The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning
- The Set-Up by Joseph Moncure March
- The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- The Song of Roland (anonymous), French chanson de geste
- The Wild Party by Joseph Moncure March
- The Wreck of the Hesperus by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- Tam Lin (anonymous)
- Tam o' Shanter, by Robert Burns
- Terje Vigen by Henrik Ibsen
- The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll
- Out, Out- by Robert Frost
- The Battle of Blenheim by Robert Southey
- Love, Dad by Eavin Antony Kunnamkudath
- "Lục Vân Tiên" by Nguyễn Đình Chiểu
- "Lays of Ancient Rome" by Thomas Babington Macaulay
- Michael Meyer, The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Bedford/St. Martin's, 2005, p2134.
- David C. Rubin, Memory in Oral Traditions. The Cognitive Psychology of Epic, Ballads, and Counting-out Rhymes (Taco University Press, 1991)
- Media related to Narrative poems at Wikimedia Commons