What Are Some Examples of a Metrical Tale?

A metrical tale is a form of poetry that relays a story in a number of verses. Two famous examples are “Evangeline,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Sir Walter Scott’s “The Lady of the Lake.” The majority of metrical tales recount romantic stories and are usually told from the first-person point of view.

Metrical means “of, relating to, or composed in poetic meter. The metrical tale, also known as a metrical romance, became popular during the High Renaissance. During this time period (from the early 1490s-1527) royalty and other members of the upper class enjoyed live performances of prose poetry. Minstrels would travel from court to court, performing their works for noble audiences to earn their living. They often sang the verses of the stories and were traditionally accompanied by a harp.

Metrical tales typically revolved around the adventures, trials and tribulations of knights and their men who were away from court on quests, their chivalrous deeds and the romantic rewards they often gleaned as a result. Courtly love and romance was another common theme for metrical romance tales. The first poems in this style were written in Old French, but they later appeared in German as well as English.