Before language was written, cultures passed traditional stories and histories down through oral language. These were called ballads. Later, poets wrote ballads-narrative poems. These poems that tell a story typically use simple language and repetition.
"Rime of the Ancient Mariner"-Coleridge
A wedding guest is stopped by an old mariner, who tells him the story of a fateful journey, on which he shot an albatross and a curse seems to descend upon his ship and crew.
Upon returning from a hunt, a young man answers his mother's questions about the hunt and reveals that he has been poisoned.
"La Belle Dame Sans Merci"-Keats
A knight tells a story about a mysterious and beautiful fairy who woos him, but then he dreams about her conquests-who are all dead now-and wakes up in a field.
"The Lady of Shalott"-Tennyson
Narrative about a mysterious Lady who lives in a castle on the Isle of Shalott which is on the way to Camelot.
Haunting poem in which the speaker tells the story of his love for his dead bride.
"The Ballad of Moll Magee"-Yeats
Moll Magee tells the story of how she accidentally killed her baby by laying on it while she was sleeping.