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 need rhyme. 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 and meter. 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 the 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 those 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. So sagas include both incidental poetry and the biographies of poets. An example is "The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert Service.
The oral tradition is the predecessor of essentially all other modern forms of communication. For thousands of years, cultures passed on their history through the oral tradition from generation to generation. A clear example of this – 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 God in 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 format. 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 those narrative poems were created to explain oral traditions. The focus of narrative poetry is often the pros and cons of life.