What are the general characteristics of the Neo-Classical school of poetry?

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ognesperanza eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Neo classical is a mimicry or reimagining of classic Greek and Roman ideas and ideals, derived from French critical models and Pope's "Essay on Criticism" (1711)


In poetry this would mimicry of the balladic style of Greek and Roman epics.  


So taking up the poem in the middle of the action, begins/mentions with the evocation of the muse or classical deity -sometimes even heroes like Achillies etc.  They usually contain a statement of theme, uses epithets, and shows divine intervention.  


The protagonists/mentioned individuals, sometimes the author, is the embodiment of civilisation and there are usually long lists of items, people, places etc.


vast or lofty themes, or on occaision presenting a trivial theme as very important such as Alexander Popes, The Rape of the Lock, which is written like a Homeric epic but is about a woman having her hair cut.


 In terms of structure the poetry was very ordered and tightly controlled with few running lines and little to no free verse.


It favoured elegent expression and 'wit' which was intelligent expression.  The period was marked with an 'obsession' with decorum and propriety