A narrative poem is that type of poem which has a structure similar to that of a story and so there can be various types of narrative poetry and these are mostly narrated by a narrator and have various characters. The events are also connected, as they are in a story. Thus, narrative poetry may include a love story, or may tell you about the relationship shared by a father and a son or may tell you about a hero, as well. The major types of narrative poetry are:
Epics are usually those types of narrative poetry which are long and deals with a universal theme. It also celebrates the various achievements and very deeds of the hero and depicts the traditions of that particular nation. Epic poems can also be a commentary on a particular event that has taken place and narrates by forming a sequence of various events. One can even see a lot of divine intervention that takes place in the mortal world, when reading epic poetry . Apart from Gods, an epic also has demigods, kings, various noblemen and warriors who tend to fight for themselves and their fate or vision which they want to see realised in their nation. The famous examples of epic poetry can be Ramayana, Mahabharata, The Iliad, etc.
Ballads are a classic example of narrative poetry and these are even called ‘dancing songs’. Thus, it is on of those types of narrative poetry where poetry and a song meet. These can be of various types such as traditional ballads, which narrated stories of Robin Hood, or Broadside Ballads, which narrated stories about love, legends, religion, or of political events, and then, there are literary ballads which are the most common lyrical ballads, as these originated from the Romantic movement. Thus, the famous literary ballads are ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ by Coleridge, or ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’, by Oscar Wilde. Thus, the simple style of narrating stories, made ballads famous among the people.
Idylls are those types of narrative poetry where the countryside or the rustic life is explored and is described in idealized terms. It may also narrate a story of a past hero. The hero can be a shepherd or a farmer or can be military hero. These are generally short poems and the famous examples of idylls can be Tennyson’s ‘Idylls of the King’ which consists of twelve narrative poems and deals with the life of King Arthur. Another example of idylls can be Theocritus idylls, where he described the scenes that take place in everyday life. In order to be a narrative poetry, an idyll must describe a story which is set up in rural structure.
Lays are long narrative poetry which was generally sung by minstrels during the middle ages. A greater importance on personal experience and feelings is given in these poems and these types of narrative poetry tend to use end rhymes. Thus, the stories are narrated with the help of experiences and feelings. An example of lay poem is ‘The Lay of the Last Minstrel’ by Walter Scott.