Narrative poetry is characterized by the fact that its action plays an essential role and that it is largely written in verse . In Aristotle's poetics , this area was covered only by the epic , today a large number of mixed forms are included.
In the ballad there are often elements from all three types of poetry, narrative, lyrical and dramatic. Idylls and lais mostly have a primarily narrative character. Verse novels differ from the modern novel not only in the use of the meter, but also have similarities in content with the ancient epic ( hero's journey ). This also applies to the romances . In the verse novella , examples are Meier Helmbrecht and especially Chaucer's Canterbury Tales , there are hardly any differences to the chronologically parallel prose. In Chaucer's work, prose and storytelling stand side by side.
About the terminology
In the term narrative poetry , poetry is used based on the English and French language usage in the old sense that was only used in Germany until the 18th century.
The terms narrative poetry and narrative poem are almost synonymous, but poetry excludes the sagas, which are largely kept in prose, and a large part of the bard poetry. Narrative poem also excludes epics and verse novels and is often understood as a ballad in the narrower sense.
Origin from oral tradition
Much of the narrative poetry has been transmitted orally. The ancient epics such as heroic verse tales and folk ballads were intended for recitation . In some cultures, there is still a living tradition of telling verses today. David C. Rubin has argued that essential characteristics that distinguish bound language from prose were developed to serve as reminders for the singers who performed it. That applies to meter , alliteration and kenninge .
- David C. Rubin, Memory in Oral Traditions. The Cognitive Psychology of Epic, Ballads, and Counting-out Rhymes. (Taco University Press, 1991)