England Poems

Bards of Passion and of Mirth

by John Keats

‘Bards of Passion and of Mirth’ by John Keats is one of the poet’s early odes. In it, Keats confirms that bards, or authors, have two souls, with one rising to heaven, and the other staying on earth.

Before he died, Keats write to his brother "I think I shall be among the English Poets after my death." Keats did, indeed, rise among the ranks of the great English poets, and he is still considered to be one of the very best poets of England, accompanied in the rankings by Chaucer, Wordsworth, and Byron.


by Stevie Smith

‘Parrot’ is a moving exploration of imprisonment and suffering set against the backdrop of the modern, urban world.

Smith was born in England and lived there all her life. The poem is clearly concerned with life in London.


by Frances Cornford

‘Childhood’ explores the transitory moment when a child becomes aware of the passing of time, and the process of growing old.

Cornford was as established in British high society as any writer in her period.

Peckham Rye Lane

by Amy Blakemore
The poem's depiction of modern London is every bit as engaging as Blake's iteration of London in the late eighteenth century.


by Thomas Babington Macaulay

‘Horatius’ by Thomas Babington Macaulay is a long narrative ballad about Horatius Cocles, a legendary hero from early Roman history.

While 'Horatius' is primarily about Roman History, it is by a very eminent British author, Thomas Babington Macaulay. This poem also uses ballad form for ease of reading, which emulates the form of folktale songs in early Britain. Additionally, it is best known as Winston Churchill's favorite poem, so it has a lot of British history behind it.

The Nightingale

by Philip Sidney

‘The Nightingale’ is a unique love-lyric that exploits the classical myth of Philomel to morph the personal rue of a lovelorn heart into a superb piece of poetry.

The poem is written by the 16th-century English poet Philip Sidney, one of the Renaissance poets. The poem perfectly portrays Elizabethan England as well as the Romantic period England. The era perfectly shines out in the poem which talks about love whether it is unrequited or wicked.

The Storm-Wind

by William Barnes

‘The Storm-Wind’ by William Barnes contrasts peace and danger with images of home and a terrifying storm. The poem emphasizes how much easier it is to appreciate the safety of home when the conditions outside are so inhospitable.

The poem is likely inspired by the Dorset coast, where storms are not uncommon and it also demonstrates some of the preoccupations of Victorian England, notably a curiosity regarding the weather and natural world.

Apostrophe to the Ocean

by Lord Byron

‘Apostrophe to the Ocean’ by Lord Byron is an excerpt from Byron’s long, epic poem ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.’ The excerpt includes seven stanzas from the poem, starting with stanza CLXXVIII, or 178, and ending with stanza 184. 

This is a wonderful example of English verse published in the early 1800s. Byron is well-known for his highly influential potry, and themes, and this poem is no exception. It represents some of the best of his nature-related poetry.

Character of the Happy Warrior

by William Wordsworth

‘Character of the Happy Warrior’ by William Wordsworth is a poem about what it means to be a “happy warrior” and what the elements of this kind of person’s life would be. 

This is a 19th-century poem written by a very famous English author - William Wordsworth. But this is not his best poem nor is it the best poem written in the history of the English language.

The Tables Turned

by William Wordsworth

In ‘The Tables Turned,’ Wordsworth invites us to break free from the constraints of modern society and rediscover the natural world’s beauty and wisdom.

As far as great English poems go, this one has good structure, form, syntax, and use of literary devices. Yet, it's not a poem that is above others; nothing special makes it better than other English poems. It falls a bit short in content and unique interest, both of which have been done by others over the years.

Two Armies

by Stephen Spender

‘Two Armies’ by Stephen Spender describes two armies on a devastating battlefield where every individual is suffering. Their common humanity is highlighted. 

This is a poem written by an English poet but not one that represents the best of English poetry.

The Sea and the Hills

by Rudyard Kipling

‘The Sea and the Hills’ by Rudyard Kipling depicts the ocean, its heaving waves, incredible winds, and ever-present danger. It has evoked longing in men throughout time and will continue to do so, just as one longs to return home. 

Kipling is a poet that is very closely associated with Britain, particularly Victorian Britain. However, the sea is a universal symbol which resonates across the world equally.

The Confessional

by Robert Browning

‘The Confessional’ by Robert Browning is a dramatic monologue following a woman who is betrayed for her blind faith.

This poem is excellent, but it's nothing spectacular in English poetry. It does not stand to be unique among its peers or set a new standard. Still, it is well written with an interesting story and topic and should be considered an excellent English poem overall.

Carpet-weavers, Morocco

by Carol Rumens

‘Carpet-weavers, Morocco’ is a challenging poem which explores issues such as child labour as well as examining the myriad origins of beauty.

While Rumens is a British poet, this poem is almost exclusively concerned with Morocco and life there.

From The Complaints of Poverty

by Nicholas James

‘The Complaints of Poverty’ by Nicholas James uses rhetorical devices and rhyme to give the rich a good look at how unpleasant it is to be poor. James indirectly challenges the stigmas associated with both wealth and poverty, inviting the rich to treat poor people with compassion, sympathy, and generosity.

The topic of wealth inequities in 18th-20th century England gives modern listeners a semi-visual context for the problems going on leading up to the abolishment of slavery and the eventual industrial revolution. While James attempts to help remedy these inequalities, it seems that they still persist to this day.

Carpe Diem

by William Shakespeare

‘Carpe Diem’ by William Shakespeare is a love song from Twelfth Night, sung by Feste the clown/fool. It’s about love and youth. 

Shakespeare's work is some of the most important written in the history of the English language. But this short poem, taken from the middle of a play, is not one of his most important accomplishments.

Suicide in the Trenches

by Siegfried Sassoon

‘Suicide in the Trenches’ is an incredibly tragic poem. Siegfried Sassoon explores the mental deterioration of a young soldier in the trenches of WW1 and his suicide.

'Suicide in the Trenches' reflects the disillusionment and cynicism of the post-World War I era. It also highlights the anti-war sentiments of many writers and intellectuals during that time, who were critical of the government's decision to send young men off to die in battle.

My Kate

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

‘My Kate’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning is a sorrowful elegy dedicated to a morally righteous and important woman who has passed away. 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an English poet responsible for some of the 19th-century's most influential verses. But, this poem was not one of her most important, and it is far less-commonly read today than other poems she wrote.

The Complaints of the Poor

by Robert Southey

‘The Complaints of the Poor’ by Robert Southey takes place in a city, likely London, and describes the desperate measures poverty drives people to. 

This is an important English poem but is certainly not one of the best ever written.

The Double Shame

by Stephen Spender

‘The Double Shame’ by Stephen Spender conveys a depiction of what the world feels like when one loses a very important person in their life. Everything is transformed in a way that makes a living from day to day difficult. 

This is a poem by an English poet but not one that's highly representative of the best English poetry.

Emmonsail’s Heath in Winter

by John Clare

‘Emmonsail’s Heath in Winter’ by John Clare is a beautiful nature poem that describes a specific area in Northamptonshire in winter. The poem focuses on plants and birds. 

This lovely nature sonnet is written by the famed English poet, John Clare. Despite its beautiful and transportive qualities, it is not one of England's best-ever poems.

Life in a Love

by Robert Browning

‘Life in a Love’ by Robert Browning is an obsessive love poem in which a speaker tells the person they’re in love with that no matter how many times they’re torn down; they’re always going to get back up. 

This poem was written by a famed English poet, but it is not one of his best poems. Browning is far better-known for other contributions to poetry.

Bloody Men

by Wendy Cope

‘Bloody Men’ by Wendy Cope is a short, contemporary poem by a British award-winning author. It uses a metaphor to compare men to buses.

An interesting, contemporary English poem but not one that represents the best of English verse.


by Felicia Hemans

‘Casabianca’ by Felicia Hemans describes a boy’s refusal to leave his father’s ship, despite the fact that it’s being consumed by flames and is soon to sink. He waits for an order from his father, unaware that he has passed away. 

Felicia Hemans is a less-commonly read English poet best known for her poem 'Casabianca.' Today, her work is not nearly as influential as other poets writing her her lifetime.


by Frederick William Harvey

‘Ducks’ by F.W. Harvey is a charming and interesting poem about the movements and lives of ducks. It looks at their humorous and calming features.

F.W. Harvey is an English poet who is only known for a few poems he wrote during WWI as a prisoner of war in Germany. Other than that, his influence on English poetry is minimal.

How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!

by William Shakespeare

‘How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!’ by William Shakespeare is an excerpt from The Merchant of Venice, a famous Shakespearean play. The lines are found in Act V Scene 1 and are spoken by Lorenzo.

This excerpt is part of a well-known play, The Merchant of Venice, written in the 16th century by English author William Shakespeare. The play's lines are studied around the world.


by Hugo Williams

‘Toilet’ by Hugo Williams is a humorous poem that describes a man’s struggles to speak to a beautiful woman on a train.

This poem was composed by an English author but is not one of the better poems to come out of the country, when the entire history of English poetry is considered.

Wolsey’s Farewell to His Greatness

by William Shakespeare

‘Wolsey’s Farewell to His Greatness’ by William Shakespeare is a set of lines found in Act III Scene 2 of Henry VIII, a famous history play. The lines are spoken by Cardinal Wolsey, one of the King’s closest advisors. 

This is a short excerpt from the famous English poet and playwright, William Shakespeare. It explores themes of change and failure while also alluding to the difficulty and danger of serving a King.

Chocolate Cake

by Michael Rosen

‘Chocolate Cake’ by Michael Rosen is an upbeat children’s poem that describes a child’s lack of control when it comes to his favorite dessert. 

Michael Rosen is an English poet who published this poem in 2017. It's entertaining and humorous but is not broadly influential on English poetry.

Oh Do Not Wanton with Those Eyes

by Ben Jonson

‘Oh Do Not Wanton with Those Eyes’ by Ben Jonson is a short, interesting poem in which one person describes the effect another person’s eyes have on them. They suggest this person should avoid showing certain emotions, so they aren’t impacted.

This poem was written by Ben Jonson, an English poet. But, it is not one of the best poems to have been written in England in recorded history. It ranks relatively low among Ben Jonson's own works as well.

The Best-Kept Secrets of Poetry

Discover and learn about the greatest poetry ever straight to your inbox

Discover and learn about the greatest poetry, straight to your inbox

Start Your Perfect Poetry Journey