What is the Longest Poem?

Over the centuries, poets have been inspired by the Muses to write beautiful, flowing verses to tell intricate — and sometimes very lengthy — stories. Although some of the longest poems have survived the test of time, their authorship did not — several epic poems with more than 200,000 lines cannot be traced to a specific author or authors. Nevertheless these interminable poems provide a tantalizing challenge to those mortals who enjoy memorizing poems.

Paradise Lost by John Milton: 10,550 lines
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri: 14,233 lines
The Iliad by Homer: 15, 693 lines
Orlando Furiso by Ludovico Ariosto: 38,736 lines
The Ramayana by Valmiki: 50,000 lines
Shahnameh by Ferdowsi: 60,000 verses
The Epic of Jangar by unknown author: 200,000 lines
Epic of the Mana by unknown author: 500,000 lines
Mahabharata by Vyasa: 100,000 verses
The Epic of King Gesar by unknown author: 1 million verses

Read related post: Best-Selling Books of All Time
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Why We Read Poems

For further reading: Listomania edited by Lucie Parker, Harper (2011)

4 thoughts on “What is the Longest Poem?

  1. You might add the “Sirat Bani Hilal”, an oral epic in colloquial Egyptian Arabic, which might add up to a million verses.

    • Thanks for sharing that epic. In fact, in 2003 it was included in the registry of UNESCO’s Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. I tried to find out how many lines it is estimated to be. If anyone has a precise number, please let me know so I can include it.
      Cheers. Alex

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