Classification of Poetry


I.                     Narrative Poems.

1.       Tells a story. (Series of events.)

A.      Ballad

1.)     very short story

2.)     folk product – regular people

3.)     simple plot and language

4.)     has dialogue


B.      Metrical Tale

1.)     short story in verse

2.)     more descriptions

3.)     poet expresses attitudes and opinions

C.      Epic

1.)     extremely long. (Novel length story in verse.)

2.)     about national heroes, kings, great warriors, etc.

3.)     elevated tone, lofty style. Language is highly poetic.


II.                   Lyric Poems.

1.       Expresses an emotion. Does not tell a story.

2.       Shares a moment – does not explain it.

3.       Keys to understand – refer to “Understanding Traditional Poetry.”

a.)     Logical content – what the writing actually says.

b.)    Emotive content – feeling the writing produces.

A.      Reflective Lyric: 99% of school poems fall in this category!!!

1.)     Emotional response through recall/ reflection (past tense.)

2.)     Usually calm

B.      Elegy:

1.)      Expresses grief at death.

2.)      Usually dignified.

3.)      Formal language and structure.


C.      Ode:

1.)      Any sustained lyric poem of exalted theme.

2.)      Often commemorating some important event.

3.)      Dignified formal language / irregular structure


D.     Sonnet:

1.)      Dignified subject matter

2.)      FIXED FORM !

a.)                 Italian (Petrarchan)



cdc, cdc   or    cdcdcd


b.)                English (Shakespearean)








III.                  Dramatic Poetry.

A.      Dramatic Narrative: Tells a story by the person involved.

B.      Dramatic Monologue: One speaking to others on stage. They listen, character speaks.

C.      Soliloquy: One character on stage speaking alone (to himself.)