Narrative poetry is poetry that tells a story. In its broadest sense, it includes epic poetry; some would reserve the name narrative poetry for works on a smaller scale and generally with more direct appeal to human interest than the epic.
A narrative is story-telling, in this case 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 spoke in various combinations of metered verse but does not necessarily always have a rhyming aspect to it. There can be many different forms of narratives within poetry, both long and short, and they often will 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 popular examples that we have seen stand the test of time include Beowulf, which is 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.