Poetry is the oldest literary form through which a poet evokes his emotion, feeling, sensual response, thought, ideas, liking, disliking etc. mental and personal aspects either subjectively or objectively. Poetry very often provides the readers with layers of hidden meaning through its lines, using different elements of poetic diction like ambiguity, symbolism, irony etc. In poetry, use of language or poetic diction is very important because language is what makes difference between poems, even if the poems are written on similar theme. Language is used aesthetically in poetry. Sometimes poetry is written independently, while sometimes it is written in a particular poetic form or convention.
On the basis of subject matter, style or literary characteristics, poetry is classified in two genres. These are:
1. Narrative Poetry
2. Non-narrative Poetry
Narrative poetry is the oldest genre of poetry which tells a story with regular rhyme scheme and meter. Narrative poetry can be short or long. Very often, narrative poetry reveals tradition and culture of a particular nation or country. This kind of poetry dates back to ancient time and many scholars believe that narrative poetry, in the past, was performed orally or recited as the evening entertainment for the people. For example, ballads in Scots and English, the tales of Robin Hood, some Baltic and Slavic heroic poems have this oral tradition. Sometimes, narrative poetry may consist of a number of short narrative poems relating individual episodes. Greek poet Homer’s famous epics Iliad and Odyssey are prominent examples of this kind of narrative poetry.
The story revealed in narrative poetry can have historical link- meaning the story is based on historical fact. For instance, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade is based on the incident that occurred at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. However, sometimes the story might come from poet’s imagination or ancient mythology like Mahabharata, Ramayana of ancient
Non-narrative poetry does not tell any story, unlike the narrative poetry. This kind of poetry reveals the speaker’s emotion, feeling, thought, mode, attitude, belief, observation, experience, state of mind etc. Poets of non-narrative poetry directly address the readers, without describing the characters and their actions. In this genre of poetry, poems are totally focused on the inner thought, ideas, feeling, perception and emotion of the speaker or poet. Some of the popular forms of non-narrative poetry are Lyric, Sonnet, Ode, Elegy etc.