What Is Classical Poetry?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 26, 2020 2:59:13 PM ET

Classical poetry is poetry rooted in Classicism, which emphasizes simplicity and clarity while limiting the display of emotion. It emphasizes a "less is more" mentality that values things that are aesthetically beautiful and possess the appearance of perfection. This perspective appears in several different genres from that time including tragedy, comedy and epic.

In ancient Greece and Rome, Classicism developed as an aesthetic attitude much like Romanticism and Realism. Where Romanticism focuses on what our hearts tell us the world should be and Realism deals with the world as it is, Classicism presents an ideal version of the world. Classicism celebrates simplicity, frowning upon individuality and examples of excess.

Classical poetry is known for honoring tradition and exploring its subject with great depth. It is a grounded approach that does not deal in theories but, rather, underlines experience instead. Classicism was a contrast to the culture of ancient Rome that was very violent and sexually promiscuous.

Classicism is still a common approach to art today, remaining the most pervasive aesthetic attitude in western culture. While artists tend to bend rules and break the mold created by Classicism, they are often most successful when dealing with less prominent aspects of tradition. The effect of Classicism on culture can be seen in everything from novels to Hollywood films and even soap operas.

Well-known English poets whose work was influenced by Classicism include Ben Johnson who wrote "An Elegy" and John Dryden who authored "Absolom and the Achitopel".