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Narrative poetry is storytelling in the form of a poem, where events or accounts are chronicled throughout the tale and to an audience. The dialogue between the narrator and characters within the story is often spoken in various combinations of metered verse but does not necessarily always have a rhyming aspect.

There can be many different forms of narratives within poetry, both long and short, and they often fall under the category of one of the following: ballads, lays, idylls, or epics.

The tradition and basis of narrative poetry can be traced back thousands and thousands of years, often being told through oral tales and legends. Some of the most famous examples that we have seen stand the test of time include Beowulf, the oldest poem in known English history, The Tales of Robin Hood, The Canterbury Tales, and many more. Often more than not, these narrative poems are written and told to tell a story that portrays a lesson or a specific theme for the readers and audience to learn and comprehend.

Narrative Poem Examples

The Raven (an excerpt)

...Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore; 20
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"¡ªhere I opened wide the door:¡ª
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, 25
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore:"
Merely this and nothing more...

- by Edgar Allan Poe

The Eve of St. Agnes (an excerpt)

St. Agnes' Eve--Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told
His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
Like pious incense from a censer old,
Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death
Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he saith.

His prayer he saith, this patient, holy man;
Then takes his lamp, and riseth from his knees,
And back returneth, meagre, barefoot, wan,
Along the chapel aisle by slow degrees:
The sculptur'd dead, on each side, seem to freeze,
Emprison'd in black, purgatorial rails:
Knights, ladies, praying in dumb orat'ries,
He passeth by; and his weak spirit fail
To think how they may ache in icy hoods and mails...

- by John Keats

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