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Restoration Era Poetry

Poems of Restoration Era: Background

The restoration period in the history of English began in 1660 and lasted till 1700. It was when King Charles II returned from France and was restored back to his throne. He also restored the monarchy and defeated Puritans as well as their way of life.

This all resulted in the poetry style as represented by John Dryden in his works which emphasized on realism, modernization and reason instead of judgment, religion, and morality as forced upon by Puritans.

Themes of Restoration Poetry

John Dryden

The poetry of the restoration era was generally of satirical nature which was written in the heroic couplet. John Dryden, the master of the restoration poetry dominated the figure of the restoration age. So the restoration period also came to be known as the “Age of Dryden”. Dryden wrote many dramas, prose, and poetries. The main characteristics of Restoration poetry are

Restoration Era Poetry theme: Moderation

The poetry of the restoration era was written in the form of heroic couplets, rhyming pairs of iambic lines of pentameter. It also characterized the epic poetry. The poetry of the restoration era is considered very moderate in the manner in which it emphasizes the precision and economical usage of words and language.

Restoration Era Poetry theme: Realism

The two characteristics namely preciseness and realism are the long-lasting contribution of the English literature. The writers focus on creating an intense and real depiction of the corruptions that they witnessed in society. The simplicity in the language and precision in writing words helped them to emphasize the realism theme of the restoration poetry.

Mostly the writers were influenced by the English and French writers and kept their main target on the manner which resembled the way in which people actually use to converse. They find it irrelevant to incorporate the classical illusions, romantic indulgence and Latin quotations that were previously used.

Restoration Era Poetry theme: Reason

The poetry of the Puritan age relied on the metaphysical ideas while the poetry of the restoration era was influenced by scientific advances that were ongoing during that phase. This advancement in science encouraged people to apply reason for solving problems. As a result of this, the language of the restoration era poetry included well and well-constructed arguments. Hence reason became an important theme for the poetry of the restoration era.

Developments of the Restoration Poetry

John Dryden was a leading figure in the development of restoration poetry. His poetry was divided into three main categories Satires, The Fables, Doctrinal Poems, and Mock-Epics.


Satire is the form of the literary art of criticizing a subject by making it ridiculous and funny. Satires expressed the sense of disgust as well as amusement together. The Satirical poet usually avoids the topics of hatred and disliking as they are deformed things. They did not use any such direct expressions. However, they heavily made the usage of the irony.

The Restoration Age is also known as the age of Satire. The spirit of Satire continued by judging and criticizing of the society. The poets of the restoration era openly denied the false spiritual authorities which also became their pleasure and immense duty. The satirists were highly honored which inspired them to write more satires.

Some of the most popular satires are “Absolem and Achitophel” and ” The Medal”.

The Fables

The fables were written during the last life of Dryden in the form of narration. For this Dryden was rank amongst the best storytellers of verse in England. Some of his best popular fables of Dryden are “The Palamon and Arcite” and “Annus Mirabilis”.

Doctrinal Poems

Doctrinal poems by Dryden are theological and controversial rather than being devotional and religious. His best Doctrinal poems are “Religio Laici” and “The Hindu and the Panther”. The former was of the protestant type that defended the Anglican Church. The latter was defending Catholicism.


A Mock-Epic is the form of art that imitated in a sustained way that represents the elaborate form as well as the ceremonious style of the poems written in epic style. They were representing usually a subject that is ignorable.

Mock-Epics were written on known themes most of them highly influenced by satire. So they used irony, criticism, overstatement to mock on its original subject in a most impressive manner.

Mock-Epic poetry was able to make up on contemporary culture, social issues, and religion in a funny and meaningful manner. The best example of Mock-Epic is “The Rape of Lock ” by Alexander Pope.

 Poets of the Restoration Era

The well-known poets of the Restoration period are

  • John Dryden
  • Samuel Butler
  • Marvell
  • Oldham
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