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Types of Poetry

The Narrative & Lyric Poem

Narrative vs. Lyric
Definitions + Examples
Narrative Poetry

Narrative poetry tells a

story, a sequence of
connected events. It
propels characters
through a plot. It is
always told by a
In medias res
In medias res is Latin for "in the middle of
Narratives are not always told in sequence. Many
stories start in medias res and jump about
(“In medias res” usually describes a narrative
that begins somewhere in the middle of a
story-- usually at some crucial point in the
The following slides present excerpts from
well-known narrative poems.
If you want to read the entire text of the poem,
copy and paste the website address into your
Enjoy and be inspired!
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
Once upon a midnight dreary,
while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of
forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly
there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my
chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my
chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more."

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Paul Revere's Ride
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Listen my children and you shall hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march

By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
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The Rime of the Ancient
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1798

Day after day, day after day,

We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
The above is an excerpt – “In Medias Res”
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"Because I could not stop for Death"
By Emily Dickinson

Because I could not stop for Death—

He kindly stopped for me —
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
And Immortality.
We slowly drove —
He knew no haste —
The above is just an excerpt.
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Lyric Poetry
• A lyrical poem is a
comparatively short, non-
narrative poem in which a
single speaker presents an
idea, state of mind or an
emotional state.
Did you know...
The term “lyric” comes from “lyre,”
a musical instrument that
accompanied ancient Greek poets?
•Lyric poetry typically
describes the poet's
innermost feelings or candid
observations and evokes a
musical quality in its sounds
and rhythms.
Famous Lyric
The following slides present
excerpts from well-known lyric
If you want to read the entire text of
the poem, copy and paste the website
address into your browser.
Enjoy and be inspired!
To an Athlete Dying Young
by A.E. Housman

To-day, the road all runners come,

Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.
The speaker says the boy
is smart to “slip away”
Smart lad, to slip betimes away (die) young

From fields were glory does not stay

And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
Because no one can be
champion forever, it’s better to
die while still on top than to
These are only the 2nd and 3rd stanzas. To read
grow old and be forgotten.
the entire poem, go to:
“To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”

“Gather ye rosebuds while

ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that
smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.”
In the first lines of the lyrical poem “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time,” by mid-
17th century English poet Robert Herrick, the speaker begins advising young
people to take advantage of life while they still have their youth.   
Dream Deferred
by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream

Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
One Inch Tall by Shel Silverstein

If you were only one inch tall,

you'd ride a worm to school.
The teardrop of a crying ant would be
your swimming pool.
A crumb of cake would be a feast
And last you seven days at least,
A flea would be a frightening beast
If you were one inch tall.

This is only the first stanza.

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Think about creating your
own poem...
Narrative? Lyric?
End of presentation.