Lesson: What is Narrative Poetry?

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to identify a poem as narrative. Students will synthesize a narrative poem that tells a story.

Lesson Plan

Objective: Students will be able to identify a poem as narrative.

Students will synthesize a narrative poem that tells a story.

Lesson Plan


Do Now (5-7 minutes): Jack writes poems that are shaped like the things they describe. Choose something that you see every day and paint a picture of it with words. Consider hiding details inside your poem, as Jack does when he tucks the black hair among the yellow ones.


Long before there was paper to write on or ink to write with, long before the invention of the printing press, people often shared stories as a form of entertainment. These stories were also often used to relate historical events. In the same way that we spread news through newspapers today, oral stories were used to spread news of historical events long ago. In order to help recall details of the events, people began to use rhyme and rhythm to give their stories a musical quality that would allow the story to be remembered and recalled much more easily. Think about how much easier it is to remember the words to a song than it is to recall



Direct Instruction (I DO):

What is Narrative Poetry?

Narrative Poems are poems that tell stories. There is a beginning, which introduces the background to the story, a middle, which tells the action of the event, and an end, which concludes and summarizes the story, all of the words of a short story. That is exactly how narrative poems were originally created.


In what ways are narrative poems similar to short stories?

Narrative poems have many similarities to short stories. For example, short stories have characters, a setting, a conflict, and a clear beginning, middle and end. Narrative poems have all of these elements as well. Sometimes there may only be one character, or there may be many characters. At times, the setting may be implied rather than obvious, and the conflict may be an internal conflict (character vs. self) rather than external (character vs. nature/character/society).


How can we analyze narrative poems?

In order to analyze a narrative poem, first read through it with the following questions in mind:

Who are the characters in the poem?

What are the characters doing, or what is happening?

Why are these events happening?

How are the characters affected by the action or events?

What can be learned from the poem?

Where can we find narrative poetry in our daily lives?

Although narrative poetry is one of the oldest forms of literature, this does not mean it is no longer prevalent in today’s world. In fact, any time you turn on a radio, you can hear narrative poetry on nearly any radio station. The best place to see or hear narrative poetry today would be in songs. Songs are simply poems set to music, and the songs that tell stories are narrative poems set to music.

We can also find narrative poems in books and by popular authors:


Guided Practice (WE DO):

The poem “The Echoing Green” was written by the 18th century American poet, William Blake. As you read “The Echoing Green” as an example of a narrative, think about who the characters are. What does the setting of this poem look like? Why might William Blake consider this a story worth writing a poem about?


The Echoing Green by William Blake

The sun does arise, 1

And make happy the skies;

The merry bells ring

To welcome the Spring;

The skylark and thrush, 5

The birds of the bush,

Sing louder around

To the bells' cheerful sound;

While our sports shall be seen

On the echoing green. 10

Old John, with white hair,

Does laugh away care,

Sitting under the oak,

Among the old folk.

They laugh at our play, 15

And soon they all say,

'Such, such were the joys

When we all--girls and boys –

In our youth-time were seen

On the echoing green.' 20

Till the little ones, weary,

No more can be merry:

The sun does descend,

And our sports have an end.

Round the laps of their mothers 25

Many sisters and brothers,

Like birds in their nest,

Are ready for rest,

And sport no more seen

On the darkening green. 30


Have a discussion about the poem and answer questions (see attached file)


Independent Practice (YOU DO):

Think about a sad, funny, interesting or exciting event that has taken place in your life or in the world around you. Consider three or four main points about the event that a reader would need to know in order to make sense of your ideas. Now, write a narrative poem with or without lines that rhyme, using each of the main points as a central idea for each stanza.


Use a website on the Internet such as Lyrics.com to make a list of your 10 favorite songs. Determine whether the lyrics to the songs form narrative poems. If so, tell what the story of the song is about. Use the following chart to record your answers.  (see attached file)

Exit Ticket:  What is a narrative poem and how is it similar to a short story?

Lesson Resources

Lesson 66 Homework   Homework
Lesson 66   Lesson Plan
Lesson 66 The Echoing Green GP   Classwork


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