18th Century Poems

The 18th century English literature saw a rise in satirical works as well as the development of Romanticism at the end of the century. Most poets from the earlier period such as Alexander Pope, John Dryden, Samuel Johnson, and Jonathan Swift wrote satirical poems.

The end of the 18th century was a new beginning of English literature. Poets moved away from the ideals of the past and focused more on the democratization of literature.

The main poets of this movement include William Blake, William Wordsworth, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Wordsworth and Coleridge’s influential collection Lyrical Ballads published in 1798 marked the beginning of English Romanticism.


by Anonymous

‘Fee-fi-fo-fum’ is a well-known chant from the story of “Jack the Giant Killer.” Dating back to at least the early 1700s, the compelling and entertaining story tells of a young boy’s daring feats and his bravery.

Here we go round the mulberry bush

by Anonymous

‘Here we go round the mulberry bush’ was first recorded in the mid-nineteenth century by James Orchard Halliwell. It was noted, as a great deal of nursery rhymes were, as a children’s game.

Here we go round the mulberry bush,

The mulberry bush,

The mulberry bush.

Here we go round the mulberry bush

Holy Thursday (Songs of Experience)

by William Blake

‘Holy Thursday’ by William Blake depicts the poor children of London attending church on Holy Thursday. Specifically, Blake describes their songs, appearance, and how their existence challenges the message the church is trying to convey.

Is this a holy thing to see, 

In a rich and fruitful land,

Babes reducd to misery,

Fed with cold and usurous hand?

Huge Vapours Brood above the Clifted Shore

by Charlotte Smith

‘Huge Vapours Brood above the Clifted Shore’ by Charlotte Smith describes a brooding storm the lighted paths of life one might choose to follow. 

Huge vapours brood above the clifted shore,

Night o’er the ocean settles, dark and mute,

Save where is heard the repercussive roar

Of drowsy billows, on the rugged foot

Hymn on Solitude

by James Thomson

‘Hymn on Solitude’ is separated into five stanzas with differing numbers of lines. The poem has a simple rhyme scheme,

Hymn to Adversity

by Thomas Gray

The poem, ‘Hymn to Adversity‘, written in 1742, like the ‘Ode on Spring‘ and the ‘Ode on a Distant Prospect of

Live Your Life

by Chief Tecumseh

‘Live Your Life’ by Chief Tecumseh is an easy-to-read and powerful poem. It was written with the intention of sharing the poet’s beliefs about how to live life and embrace death without fear.


by Samuel Johnson

To look back at a nation’s history from a poet’s perspective is an enriching exercise that enlightens modern readers regarding the follies and foibles of the age. Samuel Johnson’s ‘London’ is one such piece that throws light on the condition of 18th century England, especially London.

Now Art Has Lost its Mental Charms

by William Blake

As someone who appreciates and enjoys poetry, it’s easy to quickly notice a title such as ‘Now Art Has Lost

`Now Art has lost its mental charms

France shall subdue the world in arms.'

So spoke an Angel at my birth;

Then said `Descend thou upon earth,

Ode on the Spring

by Thomas Gray

‘Ode on the Spring’ belongs to the first period of Gray’s poetic career. It was written in 1742 and to

Ode to Psyche

by John Keats

‘Ode to Psyche’ was one of the final works of poetry that was published. His collection, Lamia, Isabella, The Eve

On a Certain Lady at Court

by Alexander Pope

Written in 1717, Pope’s ‘On a Certain Lady at Court’ is about Catharine Howard, one of the waiting-women of Queen Caroline and a mistress to George II. Pope satirizes the lady’s qualities as she rejects his genuine love.

On the Day of Judgment

by Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift’s acerbic poem ‘On the Day of Judgment’ is about a speaker’s vision of the judgment day with Jove or Jupiter giving his final ruling on humankind’s offenses.

She Walks in Beauty

by Lord Byron

Scholars believe that ‘She Walks in Beauty’ was written when Byron met his cousin Mrs. Anne Beatrix Wilmont.

Splendour in the Grass

by William Wordsworth

‘Splendour in the Grass’ by William Wordsworth is an excerpt from the poet’s much longer, ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.’ The excerpt describes aging and where, after their youth has ended, one should seek strength and happiness.

What though the radiance which was once so bright

Be now forever taken from my sight,

Though nothing can bring back the hour

Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower?

Strange Fits of Passion Have I Known

by William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth mentions the character “Lucy” many times throughout his poems, such as in Strange Fits of Passion Have I

Strange fits of passion have I known:

And I will dare to tell,

But in the lover’s ear alone,

What once to me befell.

The Ecchoing Green

by William Blake

‘The Ecchoing Green’ by William Blake is poem that presents a theme that is as beautiful as it is melancholy.

The sun does arise,

And make happy the skies.

The merry bells ring

To welcome the Spring.

The Garden of Love

by William Blake

‘The Garden of Love’ is the antithesis to The Echoing Green of Innocence, as it uses the same setting and rhythm to stress the ugly contrast.

I went to the Garden of Love,

And saw what I never had seen:

A Chapel was built in the midst,

Where I used to play on the green.

The Little Vagabond

by William Blake

‘The Little Vagabond’ is a satirical critique of church services, which humourously compares them to ale-houses.

Dear Mother, dear Mother, the Church is cold,

But the Ale-house is healthy & pleasant & warm;

Besides I can tell where I am use'd well,

Such usage in heaven will never do well.

The Poplar Field

by William Cowper

‘The Poplar Field’ describes the destruction of a field of poplar trees and how its loss allows a speaker to reflect on his death. 

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