Friday, April 26, 2013

Like Stories? Try The Narrative Poem

File:Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - Project Gutenberg eText 16786.jpg
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

National Poetry Month is coming to a close. One of the types of poetry that I like is narrative, which is nothing more than a poem that tells a story. Like prose stories, it has a beginning, a middle and an end. It also involves character and plot as well as a setting. Some are epic in nature, book length. One of my all-time favorites is Longfellow's Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie. I first read it as a teen in an English class. Being that age, the love and lost love aspect appealed mightily to me. I still think it is a heart-touching story. 

The poem begins in the Acadian town of Grand Pre (now part of Nova Scotia)  and ends in St. Martinsville, Louisiana. I have been to both places and something about seeing the beginning and the end places in the story left me feeling satisfied, as though I had come full circle with this narrative poem that had stayed in my heart these many years since reading it as a girl. I bought the book at one of the gift shops and read it with great joy. Every now and then, I take it from my bookshelf and read it again. 

A shorter narrative poem that I had to memorize in high school has also found a place in my memory bank. The Destruction of Sennacherib written by Lord Byron is far shorter than Longfellow's epic poems, but it still tells a story. To this day, the first two lines come to me every now and then. They paint such a vivid picture of what is about to happen.

The narrative poem's popularity plunged for a good many decades but it is now being revived. Not only the classics but contemporary narrtive poetry. I have read a few but I tend to prefer the older ones written by masters. You might google contemporary narrative poems and read a few. Many are short, not the book length ones of long ago. 


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