Elizabethan poetry, as the name suggests, comprises the poetry written during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England. The Elizabethan age, which spanned from 1558 to 1603, was a golden period in the history of English Literature. Fine Arts and Literature flourished like anything during this time. Poetry was the chief form of literature along with Drama. William Shakespeare, the most admired poet and playwright in English literature tradition, wrote during this time. In fact, the Elizabethan age is also known as the “Age of Shakespeare”. Some other important Elizabethan poets include Edmund Spencer, Philip Sydney, Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe, etc.
The sonnet form, which was championed by Shakespeare, was one of the most dominant forms of poetry during this time. Lyric and narrative poetry were also very common. Poetry and verse plays were majorly written in blank verse. The spirit of Renaissance had conquered England and, inevitably, there was a profound interest to borrow from the classical texts. Themes of Nationalism, Humanism, and patriotism dominated both poetry and drama. The poetry was marked by Romantic luxuriance, creativity, Imagination and experimentation. Use of metaphors was very common.
Shakespeare wrote over hundred sonnets. He developed a new form of sonnet known as the Shakespearean sonnet (or the English sonnet) that was different from the Petrarchan sonnet. Some of the best works of poetry by Spencer are The Fairie Queen, Epithalamion, Prothalamion, Amoretti, The Shepherd’s Calendar, etc. Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella are also very famous.