Dramatic poetry is written in verse and is meant to be spoken or acted out. Much like narrative poetry, dramatic poetry tells a story.

Dramatic Poem Definition

Dramatic poetry is written in verse and is meant to be spoken or acted out, usually to tell a story or portray a situation. Most dramatic poetry is in the form of dramatic monologues, which are long speeches by one actor to another or the audience, or soliloquies, which are one’s thoughts spoken out loud, regardless of whether anyone hears them or not. Dramatic poetry differs from narrative poetry in that it is written and told by the perspective of the character, while narrative poetry is a story told by the narrator. Another form of dramatic poetry is known as “closet drama”. Closet drama is poetry that’s intended to be read and not performed, and became a trend in the early 1800s. Poets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley were big advocates of this poetic form.

Dramatic poetry originated from Sanskrit dramas and Greek tragedies. In the 6th and 5th centuries BCE, drama was first invented in Athens as part of a celebration honoring Dionysus, god of fruitfulness, vegetation, wine, and revelry. The earliest dramatic poetry was performed at the Theater of Dionysus in Athens. During the English Renaissance in the 16th and 17th centuries, dramatic verse became more prevalent with poets and playwrights such as Ben Johnson and William Shakespeare developing new techniques.

Examples of Dramatic Poetry

  • ”Home-Thoughts From Abroad” by Robert Browning
  • Inferno by Dante
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton
  • ”The Seven Ages of Man” by William Shakespeare
  • ”Poetics” by Aristotle
  • ”Ulysses” by Alfred Tennyson
  • ”Ode on Indolence” by John Keats
  • ”Songs of Innocence and Examples: The Tyger” by William Blake

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