Here is a rough definition of a lyric as it is written today: a short poem expressing the thoughts and feelings of a single speaker. Often a poet will write a lyric in the first person (“I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree”), but not always. A lyric can also be in the first person plural, as in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask.” Or, a lyric might describe an object or recall an experience without the speaker’s ever bringing himself or herself into it. (For an example of such a lyric, one in which the poet refrains from saying “I,” see Theodore Roethke’s “Root Cellar” or Gerard Manley Hopkins’s “Pied Beauty .”)
Although a lyric sometimes relates an incident, or like “Those Winter Sundays” draws a scene, it does not usually relate a series of events. That happens in a narrative poem, one whose main purpose is to tell a story.
A third kind of poetry is dramatic poetry, which presents the voice of an imaginary character (or characters) speaking directly, without any additional narration by the author.
The term dramatic poetry most often refers to the dramatic monologue, a poem written as a speech made by a character (other than the author) at some decisive moment. A dramatic monologue is usually addressed by the speaker to some other character who remains silent. If the listener replies, the poem becomes a dialogue (such as Thomas Hardy’s “The Ruined Maid”) in which the story unfolds in the conversation between two speakers.