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English poetry

To experience English poetry is to experience startling shifts in language, in perspective, and in theme. Some poets operating in the same era write under a dominant, shared idea; some poets disrupt and subvert that dominant idea, while others live and write as if they belong to an entirely different age.

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Early Poets

Early and medieval English poetry was dominated by a Catholic worldview, filtered through Greek philosophers, such as Aristotle, and Latin thinkers, such as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, as well as, especially in the realm of poetry, Virgil and Dante.

The Medieval Mind

Renaissance Poetry

The English renaissance followed the continental renaissance by several hundred years, but when it finally arrived, it was with a vengeance. This period saw the flowering especially of English drama, but reawakened an interest in the works of classical antiquity, again including Virgil, as well as a number of Greek and Latin philosophers.

Restoration and 18th century

The Romantic Age

In poetry, the Romantic movement emphasized the creative expression of the individual and the need to find and formulate new forms of expression. William Wordsworth, whose key work is The Prelude, was perhaps the prime mover in these endeavors for a number of years. In this, he was closely rivalled by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was first Wordsworth's mentor but soon his friend and close companion. Together, the two published Lyrical Ballads, which attempted to employ rustic language to typify its subject of common, everyday occurrences. Nevertheless, the collection opened with Coleridge's almost-epic, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Victorian Poetry

Modern Poets

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