[List] Major Neoclassical Poets in English Literature


English poets from 1660 A.D. to 1798 A.D. are generally known as Neoclassical poets. They are so-called because they had great respect for classical writers and imitated much from them. For them, poetry was an imitation of human life.

Neoclassical Poets

John Dryden

He was a famous poet of his time. The poetry of Dryden can be divided into three parts-

  • Political Satires
  • Doctrinal Poems
  • The Fables

Dryden had a good command of heroic couplets through which he could write excellent satires. The Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day and Alexander’s Feast are his best short poems.

During the later years of his life, Dryden translated many classical works of great writers from Greek and Latin. Absolam and Achitophel are great allegorical satires of Dryden.

Alexander Pope

He was an Augustan Poet. Pope was physically weak because of his long illness, he wrote Essay on Criticism while he was still young. He made many translating major works like The Iliad.

His Pastorals and Essay on Criticism are probably the best known of his writings and the scholars recognise him for his command of the heroic couplet.

Thomas Gray

He was also a great poet of this age. He belonged to a group of poets, who are sometimes called the ‘Churchyard School of Poets’.  The Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard is one of the best poems in English written by Gray.

In this poem, he expresses the sorrowful feelings which arise in his mind on seeing the graves of the poor country people buried near the Church. His ode ‘The Bard’ is a very sad song.

William Blake

He is a poet as well as an artist. Most of his poems are mysterious. It is very difficult to understand the meaning of some poems written by him. He was a visionary poet and never believed in earthly things. His great works are Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. Of these two poetic works, the second one is darker and heavier than the first one. It presents the painful realities of life. Here is the summary of all the poems of Blake.

Robert Burns

He was a Scottish farmer whose lyrics became famous. He wrote hundreds of songs and lyrics. His love songs included My love is like a red red rose.  He had a deep understanding of animals and love for them. Even a mouse brought a gentle poem from his pen.