What Is A Narrative Poetry


Narrative poetry is a form of poetry that tell a story. This can include epics, ballads, idylls, and lays. The narrative poem may have a plot, characters, and setting like a short story. As such, these poems often use more poetic devices like repetition and metaphor. Narrative poems often tell stories about the world and its meaning. They can explore important themes and ideas in a way that is both entertaining and insightful. Additionally, they are often used to explore and critique topics in the culture, such as religion, politics, and morality. They are used to express emotions and feelings in a new and creative way.


Narrative poetry can come in a variety of forms, including epic, ballads, lays and idylls, and historical poems. While they all tell stories, there are some subtle differences between these forms. Epics are usually long poems that tell the story of a heroic figure in a historical setting, while ballads often tell stories about everyday people in a more contemporary setting. Lays and Idylls, on the other hand, are shorter poems that tell stories about rural life and often have more of a pastoral feel. Historical poems, meanwhile, tell stories about past events and people that have shaped the world.
Despite their differences, all narrative poems share certain features. Generally, narrative poems feature characters, a plot, and a setting. They also tend to focus on themes and explore important ideas about life, people, and the world. Typically, narrative poems approach these topics with a level of insight and thoughtfulness that is often lacking in other forms of poetry. Additionally, they are often used as a vehicle to express emotions or feelings in a creative, poetic way.

Narrative Poetry and Literary Devices

Narrative poetry often contains a variety of literary devices. The most obvious of these is the use of imagery. This can involve creating vivid images of characters, settings, and events. The poet might also use metaphors, similes, and personification to create more powerful images for the reader. Additionally, narrative poems tend to contain a great deal of repetition and refrains, which can be used to emphasize certain points and create a sense of rhythm.
Another important feature of narrative poetry is the use of dialogue and soliloquies. These help to create a sense of realism and can be used to create an internal monologue that reveals the thoughts and feelings of the characters. Finally, narrative poems often contain rhymes, alliterations, and other poetic devices, which can be used to create a sense of flow and emphasis.

Narrative Poetry in Context

Narrative poetry has been an important part of culture for centuries. Historically speaking, narrative poems were used as a way for societies to tell stories, explore themes, and pass on important stories and knowledge. In ancient Greece and Rome, for example, poets like Homer and Virgil wrote epic poems that told stories of the gods and heroes. In medieval Europe, narrative poems were popular among the illiterate population, as they were a form of entertainment. In modern times, narrative poems continue to be popular and have been used to express a wide range of ideas and emotions.

Notable Narrative Poets

Throughout history, there have been a number of notable narrative poets. Homer is perhaps one of the most famous, as he wrote The Iliad and The Odyssey. Virgil is also well-known for his epic poem, The Aeneid. In the Middle Ages, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales, while William Wordsworth wrote The Prelude. In the 19th Century, Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote Idylls of the King, while Robert Frost wrote Mending Wall. In the 20th century, T.S. Eliot wrote The Waste Land and W.H. Auden wrote The Shield of Achilles.

Modern Narrative Poetry

Today, narrative poetry is still a popular form of expression. In the modern era, narrative poems are often used to explore social and political topics, such as race and gender. The work of poets like W.S. Merwin, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Langston Hughes are examples of this. Additionally, many contemporary poets are experimenting with form and style, writing narrative poems in various devices, such as free verse, prose poetry, and blank verse.

Narrative Poetry in Popular Culture

In recent years, narrative poetry has become increasingly popular in popular culture. Many contemporary musicians, such as Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, have used narrative poems as lyrics for their songs. Movies, too, have often featured narrative poems.One of the most famous examples is the poem that Frank Sinatra recites at the end of The Man with the Golden Arm. Additionally, some TV shows, such as The Simpsons and Family Guy, have used brief narrative poems as a way to make comedic references. Finally, the Internet has become a popular platform for narrative poets, who often use social media and websites to share their work with a wide audience.

Narrative Poetry and Education

Narrative poetry is an important part of literature and is often used in English classrooms. It can help students to develop new writing skills, such as characterization and plot development. Additionally, narrative poetry can be used to explore important topics, such as human nature and morality. Finally, it can also be used to show how stories can be used as a vehicle to express ideas, emotions, and feelings in a creative and insightful way. In this way, narrative poetry can be an invaluable tool for teaching and learning literature.

Uses and Benefits of Narrative Poetry

Narrative poetry can be a powerful tool for expressing emotions and ideas. It can be used to explore complex topics and express them in a creative and meaningful way. Additionally, narrative poetry can be used as a way to tell stories and pass on important knowledge. Finally, narrative poetry can also be a great way to entertain and engage an audience.

Comparison to Other Forms of Poetry

Narrative poetry differs from other forms of poetry in a few key ways. Firstly, narrative poems often use more poetic devices and structure than other poems. Additionally, these poems tend to focus more on stories and characters, whereas other more traditional forms of poetry are more focused on imagery and themes. Finally, narrative poems are typically longer than other forms of poetry and often explore more complex topics.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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