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General Types of Literature

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Literature can generally be divided into two types; prose and poetry. Prose consists of those written within the common flow of conversation in sentences and paragraphs, while poetry refers to those expressions in verse, with measure and rhyme, line and stanza and has a more melodious tone.


There are many types of prose. These include novels or biographies, short stories, contemporary dramas, legends, fables, essays, anecdotes, news and speeches.

a. Novel. This is a long narrative divided into chapters. The events are taken from true-to-life stories…and spans a long period of time. There are many characters involved. Example: WITHOUT SEEING THE DAWN by Steven Javallena.

b. Short Story. This is a narrative involving one or more characters, one plot and one single impression. Example: THE LAUGHTER OF MY FATHER by Carlos Bulosan.

c. Plays. This is presented on a stage, is divided into acts and each act has many scenes. Example: THIRTEEN PLAYS by Wilfredo M. Guerrero.

d. Legends. These are fictitious narrative, usually about origins. Example: THE BIKOL LEGEND by Pio Duran.

e. Fables. These are also fictitious and they deal with animals and inanimate thins who speak and act like people and their purpose is to enlighten the minds of children to events that can mold their ways and attitudes. Example: THE MONKEY AND THE TURTLE.

f. Anecdotes. These are merely products of the writer’s imagination and the main aim is to bring out lessons to the reader. It can be stories about animals or children. Example: THE MOTH AND THE LAMP.

g. Essay. This expresses the viewpoint or opinion of the writer about a particular problem or event. The best example of this is the Editorial page of a newspaper.

h. Biography. This deals with the life of a person which may be about himself, his autobiography or that of others. Example: CAYETANO ARELLANO by Socorro O. Albert.

i. News. This is a report of everyday events in society, government, science and industry, and accidents, happening nationally or not.

j. Oration. This is a formal treatment of a subject and is intended to be spoken in public. It appeals to the intellect, to the will or to the emotions of the audience.


There are three types of poetry: narrative, lyric and dramatic.

A. Narrative Poetry: This form describes important events in life either real or imaginary. The different varieties are:

1. Epic. This is an extended narrative about heroic exploits often under supernatural control. It may deal with heroes and gods.

Two kinds of epic poetry are the popular or ancient, and the literary or modern.

The ancient or popular epic is often without a definite author and is of slow growth; the modern is with a definite author.

Here is an example of ancient Philippines epic:


(Translated in English verse by Amador T. Daguio)

Aliguyon introduced himself –
“My name is Aliguyon, son of Amtalao, of Hannaga.
I came to renew the hostility between your father an mine.” Pumbakhayon nodded and said, As you will.
Meet me on the stone floor of the granary
But I will first go home to eat.
For your coming, Aliguyon, is unexpected.”

Pumbakhayon turned to the village to do
What was to be done in Daligdigan,
He caught one of their roosters,
And shouted, “Come, comrades of our village,
Do what is to be done for you are called;
Our enemies are on the embankments, let us fight
Aliguyon, son of Amtalao,”
(Like Aliguyon, Pumbakhayon goes through the ritual of the rooster and the invocation to the spirits and seeing a good sign, gathers his men and sets forth to meet his opponent.)

2. Metrical Tale. This is a narrative which is written in verse and can be classified either as a ballad or a metrical romance.

Examples of these are simple idylls or home tales, love tales, tales of the supernatural or tales written for a strong moral purpose in verse form.

Here is an example of an idyll which aims at picturing true country life. BAYANI NG BUKID by Al Perez

Ako’y magsasakang bayani ng bukid
Sandata’y araro matapang sa init
Hindi natatakot kahi’t na sa lamig
Sa buong maghapon gumagawang pilit.

Ang kaibigan ko ay si Kalakian
Laging nakahanda maging araw-araw
Sa pag-aararo at sa paglilinang
Upang maihanda ang lupang mayaman.

Ang haring araw di dapat sumisikat
Ako’y pupunta na sa napakalawak
Na aking bukiring lagging nasa hagap
at tanging pag-asa ng taong masipag.

Sa aking lupain doon nagmumula
Lahat ng pagkain nitong ating bansa
Ang lahat ng tao, mayaman o dukha
Sila’y umaasa sa pawis ko’t gawa.

Sa aking paggawa ang tangi kong hangad
ang ani’y dumami na para sa lahat
Kapag ang balana’y may pagkaing tiyak
Umaasa akong puso’y magagalak.

At pagmasdan niyo ang aking bakuran
Inyong makikita ang mga halaman
Dito nagmumula masarap na gulay
Paunang pampalakas sa ating katawan.

Sa aming paligid mamamalas pa rin
Ang alagang hayop katulad ng kambing
Baboy, manok, pato’t alay ay pagkain
Nagdudulot lakas sa sariling atin

Ako’y gumagawa sa bawa’t panahon
Nasa aking puso ang taos na layon
Na sa bawat tao, ako’y makatulong
At nang mabawasan ang pagkakagutom.

Ako’y magsasakang bayani ng bukid
Sandata’y araro matapang sa init
Hindi natatakot kahit na sa lamig
Sa buong maghapon gumagawang pilit.

Translation of “BAyani sa Bukid”


I am a farmer, hero of the fields
My weapon’s the plow, brave against the heat
I am not afraid even of the cold
All day long, working at my best

My friend is Kalakian
Always ready everyday
In plowing and in creating
To prepare the rich soil.

King sun need not rise
I’m going to the wide
field I’m always concerned with
And the only hope of an industrious one.

In my field there starts
All food of our country
All people, rich or poor,
The depend on my sweat and labor.

In my work, my only ambition
To be abundant for all
If everyone has sure food
I am sure hearts will be glad.
Try and look at my surroundings
You’ll see the garden
Where starts the vegetables
That strengthen our bodies

Around us you’ll also see
The tended animals like the goats,
Pigs, chickens, ducks and offerings of food
That gives strength to us.

I always work in all seasons
In my heart is the sincere hope
That I can help every person
And alleviate hunger.

I am a farmer, hero of the fields.
My weapon’s the plow, strong against the heat.
I am not daunted even by the cold
The whole day long, working at my best.

3. Ballads. Of the narrative poems, this is considered the shortest and simplest. It has a simple structure and tells of a single incident There are also variations of these; love ballads, sea ballads, humorous, moral, historical or mythical ballads. In the early times, this referred to a song accompanying a dance.

B. Lyric Poetry: Originally, this refers to that kind of poetry meant to be sung to the accompaniment of a lyre, but now, this applies to any type of poetry that expresses emotions and feelings of the poet. they are usually short, simple and easy to understand.

There are different types of lyric poetry. These are:

1. Folksongs (Awiting Bayan). These are short poems intended to be sung. The common theme is love, despair, grief, doubt, joy, hope and sorrow. An example of this is


2. Sonnets. This is a lyric poem of 14 lines dealing with an emotion, a feeling, or an idea. These are two types: the Italian and the Shakespearean.

Here is an example of a sonnet in Philippine Literaure:

SANTANG BUDS by Alfonso P. Santos

3. Elegy. This is a lyric poem which expresses feelings of grief and melancholy, and whose theme is death.

Here is an example:

by Ricaredo Demetillo

4. Ode. This is a poem of a noble feeling, expressed with dignity, with no definite number of syllables or definite number of lines in a stanza.

5. Psalms. (Dalit) This is a song praising God or the Virgin Mary and containing a philosophy of life. Here is an example:

6. Awit. (Songs). These have measures of twelve syllables (dodecasyllabic) and slowly sung to the accompaniment of a guitar or bandurin.

An example of the awit is FLORANTE AT LAURA by Francisco Balagtas. (This will be further discussed under Chapter III of the Spanish Regime)

7. Corridos (Kuridos). These have measures of eight syllables (octosyllabic) and recited to a martial beat.

An example of the corridor is IBONG ADARNA. (This will also be discussed in Chapter III)

C. Dramatic Poetry

Included in this form are the following:

1. Comedy. The word comedy comes from the Greek term “Komos” meaning festivity or revelry. This form usually is light and written with the purpose of amusing, and usually has a happy feeling.

2. Melodrama. This is usually used in musical plays with the opera. Today, this is related to tragedy just as the farce is to comedy. It arouses immediate and intense emotion and is usually sad but there is a happy ending for the principal character.

3. Tragedy. This involves the hero struggling mightily against dynamic forces; he meets death or ruin without success and satisfaction obtained by the protagonist in a comedy.

4. Farce. This is an exaggerated comedy. It seeks to arouse mirth by laughable lines; situations are too ridiculous to be true; the characters seem to be caricatures and the

5. Social Poems. This form is either purely comic or tragic and it pictures the life of today. It may aim to bring about changes in the social conditions.

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