Verse drama is particularly associated with the seriousness of tragedy, providing an artistic reason to write in this form, as well as the practical one that verse lines are easier for the actors to memorize exactly. In the second half of the twentieth century verse drama fell almost completely out of fashion with dramatists writing in English (the plays of Christopher Fry and T. S. Eliot being possibly the end of a long tradition).
Dramatic verse occurs in a dramatic work, such as a play, composed in poetic form. The tradition of dramatic verse extends at least as far back as ancient Greece. It was probably used by Greek playwrights such as Euripides for incantatory effect and to make long passages easier to memorize.
The English Renaissance saw the height of dramatic verse in the English-speaking world, with playwrights such as Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare developing new techniques, both for dramatic structure and poetic form. Though a few plays, such as A Midsummer Night's Dream, feature extended passages of rhymed verse, the majority of dramatic verse is composed as blank verse; there are also passages of prose.
Dramatic verse began to decline in popularity in the nineteenth century, when the prosaic and conversational styles of playwrights such as Henrik Ibsen became more prevalent, and were adapted in English by George Bernard Shaw. Verse drama did have a role in the development of Irish theatre.
According to Robertson Davies in A Voice From the Attic, closet drama is "Dreariest of literature, most second hand and fusty of experience!". But indeed a great deal of it was written in Victorian times, and afterwards, to the extent that it became a more popular long form at least than the faded epic. Prolific in the form were, for example, Michael Field and Gordon Bottomley.
Dramatic poetry is any poetry that uses the discourse of the characters involved to tell a story or portray a situation.
The major types of dramatic poetry are those already discussed, to be found in plays written for the theatre, and libretti. There are further dramatic verse forms: these include dramatic monologues, such as those written by Robert Browning and Alfred Tennyson.