There is no known Coptic secular poetry as the monastic lifestyle during the first years of Christianity would not have encouraged it.
The early Christians were more interested in praising the angels, the prophets, saints, and martyrs in verses of glorification called "doxologies." These were collected and published by DeLacy O'Leary in 1924 in a book called "Coptic Hymns." Verses in praise of the Virgin Mary on the other hand were called "theotokia."
In 1923, O'Leary in turn published "The Coptic Theotokia" in which he collected many of the poetic verses found in the Monastery of Saint Makarius and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris and in the British Museum in London. He explained that these types of poetry were very popular among Coptic poets who found in it a chance to show their talents.
According to Alexis Mallon, S.J., Theotokia are one of the most esteemed genres of Coptic literature. Stories were also relayed in verse.
Among the most well-known stories is the story of Archiledes the monk who refused to see his mother in honor of a pledge he made to himself never to look at a woman. This is a long poem in the form of a dialogue, which lends itself to expressive acting and evocative speaking. It also touches on many delicate aspects of the human condition.
Church poems or psalms were prayers and reflections taken from the Bible.
Some were called Psalms after the Coptic word "Psalmosi," while others were called Hos after the Coptic word "Hos," meaning praise or glorification of God.
Every day had a special song of praise set in verse and sung to a certain tune. These verses are found in two books, the Annual Psalms and the Kiahk Psalms.