British Poetry


British poetry stretches back many centuries. The most significant early poets were Milton, Chaucer and William Shakespeare. Their legacy on English Literature has been profound. In the 18th Century the Romantic period brought a new wave of British poetry. Leading poets of the romantic period include William Wordsworth, John Keats and William Blake.

For list of British Poets see: British Poets

Selected British Poetry

Auguries of Innocence

To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.

By: William Blake 

William Blake was one of Britain’s most enigmatic and mystical poets. Often misunderstood during his life. He is now widely regarded as one of the greatest English language poets. This excerpt from Auguries of Innocence is an example of his poetic genius.

Saul 18

He who did most, shall bear most;
the strongest shall stand the most weak.

‘Tis the weakness in strength, that I cry for! my flesh, that I seek

In the Godhead! I seek and I find it. O Saul, it shall be

A Face like my face that receives thee; a Man like to me,


Thou shalt love and be loved by, forever: a Hand like this hand

Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee! See the Christ stand!”

– Robert Browning

Robert Browning has been to some extent overshadowed by his more luminous contempories. However Browning’s poetry reveals a profound spiritual depth as this excerpt from Saul Chapter 18 illustrates.

Charge of the Light Brigade

 Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

– Alfred Tennyson

This is a famous exceprt from Tennyson’s poem “Charge of the Light Brigade” It was written to commemorate the famous suicide charge of the light cavalry during the Crimean War.


A Thing of Beauty

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

– John Keats
From: A Thing of Beauty

John Keats is one of the leading Romantic Poets. The opening lines of this poem have a beautiful mantric quality, which have made this one of the most popular poems.

– More British Poets

– Selected Poetry of The Romantics


Other sites on British Poetry