The earliest surviving poetry was likely transmitted orally and then written down in versions that do not now survive; thus, dating the earliest poetry remains difficult and often controversial. The earliest surviving manuscripts date from the 10th century. Poetry written in Latin, Brythonic (a predecessor language of Welsh) and Old Irish survives which may date as early as the 6th century. The earliest surviving poetry written in Anglo-Saxon, the most direct predecessor of modern English, may have been composed as early as the 7th century.
With the growth of trade and the British Empire, the English language had been widely used outside England. In the 21st century, only a small percentage of the world's native English speakers live in England, and there is also a vast population of non-native speakers of English who are capable of writing poetry in the language. A number of major national poetries, including the American, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and Indian poetry have emerged and developed. Since the establishment of the Irish Republic in 1922, only poets from Northern Ireland are now British.
This article focuses on poetry, written in English, by poets from England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland (and Ireland before 1922). However, given the nature of the subject, this guideline has been applied with common sense, and reference is made to poetry in other languages or poets who are not primarily British where appropriate.
1 The earliest English poetry
2 The Anglo-Norman period and the Later Middle Ages
3 The Renaissance in... [continues]
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