Poems from the 17th Century

The 17th century English literature is categorized into the Jacobean period (1603-1625), the Late Renaissance (1625-1660), and Restoration Age (1660-1700). William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson were prominent poets of the Jacobean period.

During the late Renaissance, metaphysical poets came into prominence. John Donne and George Herbert popularized the genre and Andrew Marvell and Henry Vaughan continued their tradition. In the latter half, poets such as John Milton, Alexander Pope, and John Dryden became extremely popular.

Indeed, this century is a treasure trove of English literature.

Why Flowers Change Color by Robert Herrick

‘Why Flowers Change Color’ by Robert Herrick is a short poem that speaks about virginity, virgins, and the reason that flowers change colors. The poem is often interpreted in different ways due to the few details Herrick provides in the four lines. 

Why Flowers Change Colors by Robert Herrick Visual Representation

Advice to a Girl by Thomas Campion

Thomas Campion’s ‘Advice to a Girl’ is a piece of advice dedicated to 17th-century women regarding men’s nature and follies. It highlights some negative aspects in men that women should know before loving them.

Advice to a Girl by Thomas Campion Visual Representation

There is a Garden in Her Face by Thomas Campion

‘There is a Garden in Her Face’ by Thomas Campion is a poem about a woman’s beauty. It also contains a warning to suitors that she won’t let anyone kiss her or come near her in any meaningful way. 

There is a Garden in Her Face by Thomas Campion Visual Representation

The Constant Lover by Sir John Suckling

‘The Constant Lover’ by Sir John Suckling presents an interesting view of love. It’s told from the perspective of a man who has recently fallen for a new woman.

the constant lover by sir john suckling

Farewell, Ungrateful Traitor! by John Dryden

‘Farewell, Ungrateful Traitor!’ by John Dryden swears off men and relationships. The speaker asserts that men are incapable of being truthful or loving as much as women.

Farewell Ungrateful Traitor by John Dryden visual representation

Virtue by George Herbert

‘Virtue’ is one of George Herbert’s spiritual poems stressing the need of keeping a virtuous soul. Herbert creates a contrast between earthly things and a virtuous soul to make his point.

Virtue by George Herbert Visual Representation

Sonnet 115 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 115,’ also known as ‘Those lines that I before have writ do lie,’ is a poem about the ever-maturing nature of the speaker’s love for the Fair Youth. 

Sonnet 114 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 114,’ also known as ‘Or whether doth my mind, being crowned with you,’ is a poem about how one speaker interprets the world. Everything he sees and experiences is filtered through images of the person he loves.

Sonnet 112 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 112,’ also known as ‘Your love and pity doth th’ impression fill,’ emphasizes the speaker’s obsession with the Fair Youth. He spends the lines reminding the Youth of how important his opinion is. 

Redemption by George Herbert

‘Redemption’ by George Herbert speaks on one man’s long journey to find God amongst the secular, and therefore the ability to start a new life.

The Pulley by George Herbert

‘The Pulley’ by George Herbert speaks on one part of the Christian creation story in which God chose to imbue humanity with blessings.

A Hymn to God the Father by John Donne

‘A Hymn to God the Father’ by John Donne is a well-loved poem about God and religion. It contains a speaker’s prayers that he be forgiven a series of unnamed sins.

The World by Henry Vaughan

‘The World’ by Henry Vaughan speaks on the ways men and women risk their place in eternity by valuing earthly pleasures over God. 

The Relic by John Donne

‘The Relic’ by John Donne describes the nature of miracles, and the spiritual love that exists between the speaker and his lover. 

Woman’s Constancy by John Donne

‘Woman’s Constancy’ by John Donne contains a speaker’s doubts that his lover of one night will remain true to him in the morning. 

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

Start Your Perfect Poetry Journey

The Best-Kept Secrets of Poetry

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