Evaluation of Contemporary English Poetry And Sixteenth Century



English poetry has undergone significant changes from the sixteenth century to the present day. While the basic principles of poetry remain the same, the way poets approach language, themes, and literary techniques has changed over time. This essay provides a comparative evaluation of English poetry in the sixteenth century and the 21st century.

In the sixteenth century, English poetry was primarily characterized by the use of formal poetic structures such as the sonnet, ballad, and epic poem. Poets of the time, such as William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, and John Donne, employed complex metaphors and extended allegories to convey their ideas. The language was archaic, and the themes often centered around religion, love, and politics.

In contrast, contemporary English poetry is characterized by a much wider range of poetic forms and structures, with free verse becoming more popular in recent years. Contemporary poets such as Carol Ann Duffy, Simon Armitage, and Warsan Shire use language that is more accessible to the general public, with a focus on everyday experiences and emotions. They also experiment with various literary techniques such as intertextuality, fragmentation, and mixed media.

While there are certainly similarities between English poetry in the sixteenth century and the 21st century, there are also significant differences. For example, both periods of poetry feature an interest in exploring the human condition and the experiences of the individual. However, the sixteenth century saw a much greater emphasis on the divine and the afterlife, whereas contemporary poetry is more focused on the here and now.

Furthermore, the language used in sixteenth-century poetry was often difficult for the layperson to understand, whereas contemporary poets strive for accessibility and inclusivity in their work. This shift reflects changing attitudes towards poetry as an art form, with contemporary poets seeking to engage a wider audience.


English poetry has evolved significantly from the sixteenth century to the present day. While both periods feature a focus on the human experience, contemporary poets have moved away from the formal structures and archaic language of their predecessors, opting instead for a more accessible and inclusive approach to poetry.

Contemporary English poetry

Contemporary English poetry encompasses the works of poets who have emerged in the latter half of the 20th century and continue to produce literature in the present day. This essay will explore some of the significant themes and styles in contemporary English poetry and examine the works of several notable poets.

One of the significant themes in contemporary English poetry is identity. With the rise of multiculturalism and globalization, poets have explored what it means to be English in a world that is becoming increasingly diverse. For example, the poet Daljit Nagra, born in England to Indian parents, explores the intersection of his Indian heritage and his British identity in his work. In his collection “Look We Have Coming to Dover!” Nagra uses a mixture of Punjabi and English to highlight the complexities of identity and belonging.

Another prominent theme in contemporary English poetry is politics. Poets have used their writing as a platform to comment on social issues and political events. For example, Carol Ann Duffy, who served as the UK’s poet laureate from 2009 to 2019, has written extensively on topics such as war, gender, and politics. In her poem “The War Photographer,” Duffy explores the impact of war on both the photographer and the people in the photographs.

In terms of style, contemporary English poetry is diverse and eclectic. Many poets draw on traditional forms such as sonnets and villanelles but also experiment with free verse and more experimental structures. The poet Simon Armitage, for example, has been praised for his ability to blend traditional and contemporary styles in his work. In his collection “The Unaccompanied,” Armitage uses a variety of forms and structures to explore themes such as loss and identity.

The landscape of contemporary English poetry is also marked by a diversity of voices. There is no single dominant style or movement, and poets come from a range of backgrounds and experiences. This diversity is reflected in the increasing number of anthologies and literary magazines that showcase the work of underrepresented groups such as women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ writers.

Several notable poets have emerged in contemporary English poetry. One of the most significant figures is Seamus Heaney, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. Heaney’s work often explores the Irish landscape and history, but also touches on universal themes such as loss and love. Another notable poet is Wendy Cope, who has gained recognition for her witty and accessible poems that often subvert traditional gender roles.

Other poets who have made significant contributions to contemporary English poetry include Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, and Sylvia Plath. These poets are known for their distinctive styles and exploration of themes such as nature, mortality, and mental illness.


contemporary English poetry is marked by a diversity of voices, themes, and styles. Poets have used their writing to explore issues such as identity and politics while experimenting with traditional and experimental forms. Notable poets have emerged in the field, including Seamus Heaney, Wendy Cope, and Simon Armitage, who continue to push the boundaries of what poetry can be. As the world becomes increasingly diverse, it is likely that contemporary English poetry will continue to reflect this diversity and explore new themes and styles.


Nagra, D. (2007). Look we have coming to Dover! Faber & Faber.

Duffy, C. A. (1985). Standing female nude. Anvil Press Poetry.

Armitage, S. (2017). The unaccompanied. Faber & Faber.

Heaney, S. (1991). Seeing things. Faber & Faber.

Cope, W. (2000). If I don’t know. Faber & Faber.

Hughes, T. (1998). Birthday letters. Farrar, Stra