Poetry 101: Narrative Poetry (The Idyll)

Poetry 101: Narrative Poetry (The Idyll)

by James Matthew Byers

Greetings from the Darque Bard! 

Heroic couplets make great structures for epic and narrative poems. Last week we took a look into Chaucer’s world, and I composed a brief poem using this format as well. This week we’re going to discuss the narrative poem in general. What makes this format click? Tick? Tock? What are the kinds of narrative poems available to use when telling tales? Here’s a great site with wonderful examples: 


So, click the link, take a look, and choose which style of narrative poem you like best!

Narrative poetry tells a story. This form has been around for centuries, a cultural means for preservation of heroes, ideals, and values of a community. Obviously I am partial to the epic. But the lay, the type of poem a minstrel in medieval days would sing to spread news, holds favor as well. (This form derived from the poetic form lai, mainly composed in France and Germany until finding favor with the English in the 13th century) Ballads are also fun. 

However, the idyll will be my focus today. This style of poem idolizes someone or something. Use your imagination and run with it. Some idyll poems have sixteen lines, unless you stretch it into epic territory, where it is obviously much longer. For the most part, there is open debate on this particular literary element. If this one seems too vague, you could also tackle the ballad. It’s much more melodic with its repeating refrain. 

Ah, but we’ll save that one for next time. Here’s my idyll poem …

As ancient days have passed and gone
The bard has come to sing the tune
Exploiting other deeds unknown
Adventures underneath the moon
A hero born unto the lands
Unlike the realm of Midgard hailed
No other did with his bare hands
Amazing feats of strength assailed
The mighty Beowulf whose name
The bee-wolf youth whose proven might
Ignited fervor in his flame
A fearless manner in his fight
And more than Grendel or his kin
The warrior handled fist to face
The tales I tell will soon begin
So join me in my sacred place …

There you have it! Try one of your own! Comment in the space below. And as always, until next time, happy writing!

-The Darque Bard 


About the Author

James Matthew Byers, the Darque Bard, is a published, award winning poet. He has been in numerous anthologizes, eZines, and magazines, such as Weirdbook, Grievous Angel eZine, and Heroic Fantasy Quarterly. His debut publication, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, was published in 2016 by Stitched Smile Publications and is a rhyming version of the ancient poem. He has also won or placed in multiple contests in the Alabama State Poetry Society. He resides in Odenville, Alabama, drifting between the forests. A bard’s work is never done.