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 have to follow rhythmic patterns. 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 characters, and metre. 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 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 these 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. Some literatures contain prose narratives, and the Old Norse sagas include both incidental poetry and the biographies of poets. An example is "The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert Service.
The oral tradition predates essentially all other modern forms of communication. For thousands of years, people groups accurately passed on their history through the Oral Tradition from generation to generation. As a clear example 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 Godin 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 formativeness. 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 that narrative poems were created to explain oral traditions. The focus of narrative poetry is often the pros and cons of life.