Write a 3000 word essay on a period in British poetry, a literary group related to British poetry, or a British poet.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Before committing to the composition of an essay on the topics described, the student may wish to examine an anthology of English poetry such as The Norton Anthology of English Literature  because the Contents pages of this book lists British poets under the period in which these poets lived and...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Before committing to the composition of an essay on the topics described, the student may wish to examine an anthology of English poetry such as The Norton Anthology of English Literature because the Contents pages of this book lists British poets under the period in which these poets lived and wrote. Often a period such as the Romantic era, the Victorian age, or the Contemporary period appeals to a student. In addition, an examination of random poets in the anthology may attract a student to a certain one. Another thing a student may do is look through a textbook at the selections of poems. If one appeals to the student, then a paper can be written on this poet or his/her period.

  • Here are some Romantic poets who are often popular:

In the Romantic Period, there are several famous British poets who appeal to many readers, such as William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, George Gordon, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats. Their poetry has a lyricism, beautiful language and images, and inspiring words and ideas. Of course, the odes of Keats—"Ode to a Nightingale," "Ode on a Grecian Urn," and "To Autumn"—are perennial favorites. Shelley's odes are beautiful and inspiring as well. Another beautiful poem is Lord Byron's "She Walks in Beauty." Written to be set to music, the lyricism of this poem is compelling. Here is the first stanza:

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies:
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

This stanza exemplifies the beauty of Byron's language with the metaphors, simile, alliteration, imagery and lovely figures of speech.

Of course, the odes are also lyrical poems; their verses pay homage to a person, a quality, or a thing. Without doubt, the odes of Keats are inspiring. "Ode on a Grecian Urn" exemplifies the chiefly emotional aspect of Romantic poetry. Keats writes in this ode of the spirit that runs through all things, demonstrating that true beauty is eternal. In the urn, specifically, this beauty is self-contained.

  • Here are some Victorian poets who are popular

Another period that affords beautiful poetry is the Victorian era. For instance, Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese are lovely poems, especially Number 43, "How Do I Love Thee?" Her husband, Robert Browning, has exemplified well the possibilities of the dramatic monologue in "My Last Duchess." Most characteristic of Browning's poetry is the energy in his verses. Such buoyancy as Browning's imparts to his writing a creative vitality.  
Christina Rossetti was a Victorian poet who wrote pure lyric, narrative verse, and ballads, as well as inspiring devotional verse. Gerald Manley Hopkins's "sprung rhythm" gives his poetry distinctive design. In this new kind of rhythm, lines have a given number of stresses, but the number of unstressed syllables is highly variable. His "Pied Beauty" exemplifies this "sprung rhythm":

Glory be to God for dappled things
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
  For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim....

Hopkins' poetry is often compared to modern poetry because of its density, difficulty, and unconventional rhythm.

Certainly, the possibilities for a 3000 word essay are limitless. Writing about the time period is also an interesting choice as there are critical essays written about the characteristics of different periods. (See the links below. Anthologies also contain evaluations of the periods.)

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In order to write this essay, you will have to decide on a topic that falls within the parameters of the prompts. British poetry obviously has many interesting potential topics. Before choosing what to write about it might be helpful to do some free writing in order to discover what most interests you within the general subject matter. Then you can narrow your focus a bit and choose a specific topic.

In addition to choosing a topic, you will want to formulate a thesis for your essay. This is a way of summarizing your main idea and explaining briefly the primary purpose of your essay. This can take the form of presenting a question you want answered or a particular issue you want to explore more closely. Having a thoughtful thesis will make your essay stand out and also help guide you through the process of thinking and writing.

Think about the British poetry you're read or studied recently; which poems stood out that you found particularly enjoyable or thought-provoking? Perhaps you are  fan of Elizabethan sonnets, and want to write about Shakespeare. Maybe you enjoy the poems of the Romantic poets, such as Shelley or Keats. Many British poets from across the centuries have written about nature in some way, and this theme might also help you construct an interesting thesis for your essay.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team