Graveyard Poets in English Literature – Meaning & Characteristics


Graveyard Poets were a group of poets who came up in the 18th century. Their age was that of the Enlightenment Era, which came right after the Augustan Age.

Characteristics of the Graveyard Poets 


Graveyard Poets were very much enamoured by nature. The setting of most of their works involved extensive descriptions of nature, particularly the pastoral, rural countryside. The changing of seasons again was used by them to depict life and its transience. 


As opposed to the positivity and optimism of the August Age, the Graveyard poets wrote elegies that were melancholic and contemplated death and its consequences. They often had sombre tones and sometimes commemorated real-life deaths of close friends or relatives of the poets.

Simplistic Language

Graveyard poets used simple diction to bring out the theme of mourning. This way, they could effectively bring out their lamentation and loss in a realistic way. 

Graveyard Poets Major Poets List and Their Important Works

Thomas Gray

Gray was the most prominent of the Graveyard Poets. His magnum opus “Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard” is known for its quiet but simple way of mourning and is popular to date.

Thomas Parnell

Parnell was also an eminent Graveyard Poet. An Anglo-Irish Poet, his best-known work is his poem “A Night-Piece on Death”.  

Edward Young

Young was yet another notable Graveyard Poet. He has penned several plays but is recognised for his work “Night Thoughts” or “The Complaint”.


The Graveyard Poets thus left an indelible mark in the Enlightenment Era. They brought about a shift from the rationality and optimism of the Augustan Age and instead focused on melancholy and mortality.