Two types of literature are written and oral. Oral literature includes ballads, folklore, jokes and fables that are passed down by word of mouth. Written literature includes poetry and novels, with subsections for fiction, prose, myth, short story and novel.
A folk ballad is usually impersonal. These stories are short narratives and are meant to be sung. Love, death and the supernatural are popular themes. Incremental repetition advances the action in small but significant ways. A ballad stanza contains four lines. They present brief descriptions, use concise dialogue and end abruptly. A literary ballad, however, purposefully imitates the form and spirit of a ballad but is longer and more involved. An example of a literary ballad is Longfellow's "The Wreck of the Hesperus."