Restoration Period Poetry in English Literature: Characteristics & Themes


The restoration poetry was most satirical, realistic, and written in heroic couplets; of which Dryden was the supreme master. He was a dominating figure of the Restoration Age. He wrote poetries, prose, and also dramas. For this reason, Restoration Age is also called the “Age of Dryden”



Restoration poetry is considered moderate in the way it emphasizes precision or economical use of language and words.


The two lasting contributions of the Restoration Period in English Literature are Realism and Preciseness. Writers focused on creating a vivid and realistic representation of the corruption they saw in their society.

English writers tried to create a style that most resembled the way that people actually spoke and wrote. Moreover, they stopped the use of classical allusion and Latin quotations etc.


One of the Restoration poetry characteristics is the reason. Instead of focusing on Metaphysical ideas which most of the prior poetries had relied upon, it was inspired by many scientific developments of the time. These scientific developments encouraged people to use reason to solve problems.

These three major features- Moderation, Realism, and Reason made Restoration poetry’s style also known as the classical school of poetry dominate English Literature for more than a century.

Major Developments

Following were the major developments in Restoration Poetry:

Restoration Verse Satire

Satire can be described as the literary art of belittling a subject by making it funny and ridiculous and expressing a sense of amusement or disgust. The manner of the satirist is very different from that of a lyrical poet.

Since hatred and disliking are unlovely things, the satirical poet usually avoids giving them direct expression. He makes frequent use of irony.

The Restoration Age is essentially the age of satire. The great influences of the time made Restoration Age the age of satire. Judging and criticizing became common in the society of the age and this habit naturally gave birth to the spirit of satire. The open denial of false spiritual authorities became a duty and pleasure of Restoration Poets.

In ancient days, the satirists were honored. The study of such satirists encouraged Restoration Poets to write satires. Moreover, French influence also encouraged satire and ultimately, it became a fashion to write satires.


A mock-epic is that type of art which imitates in a sustained way, both the elaborate form and the ceremonious style of the epic poem, but applies it to narrate an ignorable subject matter.

It draws on well-known themes. Thus mock-epic poetry is often able to form observations about contemporary culture, religion, and social issues in a funny and meaningful style.

Mock-epic poetry heavily draws on the technique of satire, which means that it uses irony, overstatement, and criticism to mock its original subject, usually in an impressive manner.

The outstanding example of English Mock-epic is Alexander Pope’s The Rape of Lock, which is the best of all the mock-epic or mock-heroic poems.

Restoration Poets

John Dryden

He was the dominating figure of the Restoration Age. The poetry of Dryden can be divided into three heads-Political satires, Doctrinal poems, and The Fables.

The poetry of Dryden possesses all the characteristics of the Restoration Age and is thoroughly representative of that age. His famous works are Absolem and Religio Laici.

Samuel Butler

His most famous poem is Hudibras which is a bitter satire on Puritanism and was successfully published into three parts. It achieved a lot of popularity. Charles-II was so much pleased with him that he rewarded the author with a handsome cash present.

Other poets

Marvell and Oldham