A survey of the key moments in English poetry, told through 8 short famous poems
English poetry is a broad field, so any attempt to tell its history in a short blog post is going to have to paint pretty broad brush strokes. But one way of avoiding too many sweeping generalisations about ‘big’ movements in poetic history can be minimised, perhaps, by looking only at a handful of specific short poems by famous poets. What follows, then, is a brief history of English poetry told through eight decisive moments in literary history, showing how poetry developed over nearly eight centuries. Of course, focusing on short poems carries its disadvantages too – we cannot take into account The Canterbury Tales or Paradise Lost, two of the most important works of English poetry – but what follows should provide a sense of how poetry has changed over time.
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