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Narrative Poetry Lesson For High School Language Arts

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 2/17/2014

Introduce narrative poems by sharing the classics. Then teach that narrative poetry is a simple way of telling a story using stanzas instead of paragraphs. Students will write an original narrative poem in this lesson.

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    Narrative Poem Lesson

    Teach students how to take the ancient art of narrative poetry and write their own poem. First, students should study the masters of Poetry narrative poetry. Depending on the age level, students can start with the epic ancient poems or begin with somewhat newer classic narrative poems.

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    Ancient Narrative Poems

    Narrative poems have been passed down through the generations and sometimes come from oral traditions or story-telling. Stories are remembered if the classic poetry elements are included, such as rhythm, repetition, rhyme, similes, metaphors, etc. Many famous ones such as the “Iliad," “The Aeneid," “Beowulf," “Rime of the Ancient Mariner," “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," “The Canterbury Tales," to name a few are still read today.

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    Classic Narrative Poems

    Some more current yet famous classic narrative poems are as follows: “The Raven" and “Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “An Old Man’s Winter Night" by Robert Frost, etc.

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    Writing Narrative Poetry

    All of the mentioned poems tell a story. Students will need to write a poem that tells a tale. Stories have a BME--a Beginning, Middle and End. In a short story there is a conflict that needs to be resolved by a few characters. What makes the narrative poem different from a short story is that the poem is written in stanzas instead of paragraphs. Students need to choose their words wisely, as there are fewer words in a narrative poem.

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    Steps to Narrative Poem Writing Lesson

    Step 1: Tell students to think of a story that they want to tell in poetry form. It could be a fairy tale or a story they have previously written.

    Step 2: Ask students to break the story down into five sections. The five sections should include the beginning, middle and end.

    Step 3: Each of these five sections should now become stanzas in their poems. The stanzas should all have the same amount of lines, but should tell the story. Students should try to employ a rhyme scheme and use other poetic devices.

    Once students have written a rough draft, they should continue to work on the word choice for their poetry. Telling the story concisely in the poem is key.