Oxford English Dictionary - poet
Copyright Oxford University Press
poet 'p<e>UIt. Forms: 4-5 poyete, 4-6
poete, 5 poiet, poyte, 5-6 poite,
poiett, poyet, 4- poet.
Etymology: ME. poete, poyete, a. OFr. poete (12th
c. in Hatz.-Darm.), mod.Fr. poète, ad. L. poeta (Plaut.),
ad. Gr. pohthj, early variant of poihthj maker, author, poet (cf.
maker 5), f. poein, poiein to make, create, produce. (An early Gr.
word in L.; if introduced at a later period, the form would have been
1 a One who composes poetry; a writer of poems; an author who
writes in verse. (The ordinary current use; but now usually implying more or
less of the sense of c.)
- A. 1300 Cursor M. 8531 (Cott.) - Homer pe poet [v.r.
poete], pat was sa rijf, Liued in pis king dauid lijf.
- 1388 Wyclif Acts xvii. 28 - As also summe of 3oure
poetis seiden, And we ben also the kynde of hym.
- 14.. Nom. in Wr.-Wulcker 680/23 - Hic poeta, a poyte.
- C. 1460 Towneley Myst. xvi. 204 - Sekys poece [= poets']
- 1526 Tindale Tit. i. 12 - Won..which was a poyet of
- 1567 Satir. Poems Reform. viii. 2 - Skorner of poitis and
- 1600 J. Pory tr. Leo's Africa iii. 146 - In Fez
there are diuers most excellent poets, which make verses in thair owne mother
- 1604 R. Cawdrey Table Alph., - Poet, a verse
- 1623 Cockeram, - Poet, one that writeth well in verse.
- 1665 Dryden Ess. Dram. Poesy (1889) 67 -
Shakespeare..was the man who of all modern, and perhaps ancient poets, had the
largest and most comprehensive soul.
- 1755 Johnson, - Poet..a writer of poems, one who writes
- 1765 Gray Shaks. 6 - Fumbling baronets and poets small.
- 1844 Beck & Felton tr. Munk's Metres 30 -
The poets have not all avoided the hiatus with equal care.
- 1876 Stedman Victorian Poets 281 - She [Miss Rossetti]
is a poet of a profound and serious cast.
b Formerly (after Gr. and L. use), in more general sense: One who
makes or composes works of literature; an author, writer. Obs.
- 1362 Langl. P. Pl. A. xi. 129 - Plato pe Poyete
I [Studie] put him furste to Boke.
- 1377 Langl. P. Pl. B. xii. 260 - pus pe poete
[Aristotle] preues pat pe pecok for his fetheres is reuerenced.
- C. 1400 Destr. Troy 306 - All pat poites haue pricket of his
prise dedis, I haue no tome for to telle.
- C. 1400 Destr. Troy 9075 - Ne noght put in our proses by
poiettes of old.
- 1611 Coryat Crudities 319 - Cornelius Nepos an eloquent
Poet in the time of Cicero.
- 1678 Cudworth Intell. Syst. i. iii. 163 - The
soul,..in sleep or dreams,..seems to be surprized with unexpected answers and
reparties, though it self were all the while the poet and inventor of the whole
- 1755 Johnson, - Poet, an inventor, an author of
c In select or emphatic sense: A writer in verse (or sometimes, in
extended use, in elevated prose) distinguished by special imaginative or
creative power, insight, sensibility, and faculty of expression. (Cf.
poetry 3 c.) poet's poet, a
poet whose poetry is generally considered to appeal chiefly to other poets.
- 1530 Palsgr. 256/1 - Poet, a connyng man, poete.
- 1531 Elyot Gov. i. xiii, - Semblably they that
make verses, expressynge therby none other lernynge but the crafte of
versifyeng, be nat of auncient writers named poetes, but onely called
- 1581 Sidney Apol. Poetrie (Arb.) 25 - Onely the
Poet..lifted vp with the vigor of his owne inuention, dooth growe in effect,
another nature, in making things either better then Nature bringeth forth, or
quite a newe formes such as neuer were in Nature.
- 1581 Sidney Apol. Poetrie 29 - That fayning notable
images of vertues, vices, or what els, with that delightfull teaching which must
be the right describing note to know a Poet by.
- 1590 Shaks. Mids. N. v. i. 12 - The Poets eye in
a fine frenzy rolling, Doth glance from heauen to earth, from earth to heauen.
- 1609 B. Jonson Sil. Wom. ii. iii, - Euery man,
that writes in verse is not a Poet.
- 1636 B. Jonson Discov. Wks. 1641 II. 125 - Hence he is
call'd a Poet, not hee which writeth in measure only, but that fayneth and
formeth a fable, and writes things like the Truth.
- 1806 Wordsw. Personal Talk iv, - The Poets, who on
earth have made us heirs Of truth and pure delight by heavenly lays!
- 1840 Mill Diss. & Disc. (1859) I. 80 - Whom, then,
shall we call poets? Those who are so constituted, that emotions are the links
of association by which their ideas, both sensuous and spiritual, are connected
- 1844 Longf. Rain in Summer 61 - These, and far more
than these, The Poet sees!.. He can behold Things manifold That have not yet
been wholly told.
- 1844 L. Hunt Imagination & Fancy 75 - Spenser..has
always been felt by his countrymen to be what Charles Lamb called him, the
`Poet's Poet'. He has had more idolatry and imitation from his brethren than all
the rest put together.
- 1844 L. Hunt Imagination & Fancy 107 - Spenser
emulated the Raphaels and Titians in a profusion of pictures... They give the
Poet's Poet a claim to a new title,-that of Poet of the Painters.
- 1856 Ruskin Mod. Paint. III. iv. i. Sect.14 -
The power of assembling, by the help of the imagination, such images as will
excite these feelings [of `noble emotion'], is the power of the poet or
literally of the `Maker'.
- 1867 O. W. Holmes Guardian Angel I. xviii. 280 - Master
Gridley lifted his eyebrows very slightly, remembering that some had called
Spenser the poet's poet.
- 1873 Symonds Grk. Poets viii. 249 - Aristophanes is
essentially a poet-a poet in what we are apt to call the modern sense of the
word-a poet, that is to say, endowed with original intuitions into nature, and
with the faculty of presenting to our minds the most varied thoughts and
feelings in language uniformly beautiful, as the creatures of an exuberant and
- 1930 Times Lit. Suppl. 27 Feb. 149/2 - Assuredly, in Lamb's
day Spenser was the poet's poet.
- 1932 J. Buchan Sir W. Scott iv. 79 - Dryden was not a
poet's poet, any more than his editor.
- 1958 Reporter 10 July 38/2 (heading) - A poet's poet
looks at his art.
d Hence occas., by further extension, applied rhetorically in a
similar sense to one who practises any of the fine arts.
- 1839 tr. Lamartine's Trav. East 27/1 - The poet,..-and by poet
I mean whoever creates ideas in bronze, in stone, in prose, in words, or in
rhymes-the poet stirs up only what is imperishable in nature and in the human
- 1874 F. Crowest (title) - The Great Tone-Poets, being
short memoirs of the greater Musical Composers.
e poet-in-ordinary, a poet ordinarily employed (after
ordinary sb. 18 b).
poet-in-residence, a poet working in or associated with a
university or college or a community (see
residence sb. 2
b). poet-laureate: see
laureate a. 2 b.
- C. 1386-1843 [see
laureate a. 2 b].
- 1865 Kingsley Herew. i, - Godson of the great earl, and
poet-in-ordinary to the band.
- 1894 A. Birrell Ess. xiv. 159 - Spenser is sometimes
[erroneously] reckoned amongst the Poets Laureate.
- 1972 Guardian 8 Feb. 24/5 - W. H. Auden..returns to Christ
Church, Oxford... Mr Auden..will be what the Americans like to call `poet in
- 1973 Black World Jan. 28/2 - Buford..is now poet-in-residence
at Cleveland State University.
- 1977 Canad. N. & Q. Dec. 15/1 - In January 1921 Robert
Frost..was invited to visit Queen's and become the first poet-in-residence to
occupy such an office in any Canadian University.
Hence poet-laureateship =
- C. 1836 in Byron's Wks. (1846) 523/2 - Pye, the predecessor of
Mr. Southey in the poet-laureateship, died in 1813.
- 1874 C. Gibbon Casquet of Lit. V. 358/2 - Thomas
Warton..obtained the poet-laureateship in 1785.
f fig. Applied to a singing bird.
- A. 1748 Thomson Ode, - O nightingale! best poet of the
- 1892 Tennyson Throstle i, - Summer is coming, summer is
coming, I know it, I know it, I know it... Yes, my wild little Poet.
g A scholar in the poetry class: see
- 1679 Trials of White & Other Jesuits 47, - Parry. I
was a Student there, a Poet.
2 attrib. and Comb. a appositive (= `that is a
poet'), as poet-actor, -artist, -bird,
-bishop, -bounce (
4 b), -boy, -composer, -critic,
-dramatist, -historian, -humorist,
-king, -musician, -novelist,
-painter, -pilgrim, -ploughman,
-preacher, -priest, -princess,
-prophet, -saint, -satirist,
-seer, -singer, sucker (= `sucking'
poet), -thinker, -warrior, -woman,
etc. b Of or pertaining to a poet, as poet-craft,
-heart, -nectar, -song,
-soul, etc.; so poet-wise adv. c objective,
etc., as poet-ape (one who apes a poet), -hater,
-whipper, -worship. d instrumental, etc., as
poet-haunted, -hymned adjs.; poet-like
adj. and adv.
- 1867 Cornh. Mag. XV. 666 - The stage whereon the *poet-actor
was enacting the counterfeit presentment of a king.
- 1581 Sidney Apol. Poetrie (Arb.) 71 - The cause why it
[Poesie] is not esteemed in Englande, is the fault of *Poet-apes, not Poets.
- 1817-18 Shelley Rosalind & Helen 1119 - The
- 1909 Westm. Gaz. 2 June 5/1 - The oldest existing wine club,
the `Phoenix', of which the *poet-bishop, Heber, was once a luminary.
- 1632 Brome Novella Prol., - Those *Poet-Bownces that
write English Greeke.
- 1838 Lytton Alice viii. iii, - A dream that had
hovered over the *poet-boy.
- 1947 A. Einstein Music in Romantic Era xvi. 256 -
Lortzing..in more modest proportions was comparable to Wagner as a
- 1968 Jrnl. Mus. Acad. Madras XXXIX. 102 - The Tirupati
- 1977 Early Music Oct. 469/2 - Machaut..maintained a dual role:
one of..poet-composer, detached from the story.
- 1863 Edin. Rev. Apr. 354 - A controversy..lost in the
mysteries of *poetcraft.
- 1956 Essays in Criticism VI. 212 - *Poet-critics as dissimilar
as Arthur Symons and Mr. Eliot.
- 1964 English Studies XLV. 290 - Of course a poet-critic may be
allowed to speak in images.
- 1581 Sidney Apol. Poetrie (Arb.) 48 - Not onely in
these Mysomousoi, *Poet-haters, but in all that kinde of people, who seek
a prayse by dispraysing others.
- 1895 Marie Corelli Sorrows of Satan xxxiii, - The
beautiful autumnal woods of *poethaunted Warwickshire.
- 1844 Mrs. Browning Lady Geraldine's Courtship Concl.
viii, - Is no woman far above me Found more worthy of thy *poet-heart than such
a one as I?
- 1897 Q. Rev. Oct. 331 - The poet-satirist succeeds the
- 1859 W. Bagehot Coll. Works (1965) II. 114 - The
*poet-king of Israel..David.
- 1571 Golding Calvin on Ps. vi. 7 - Yet dooth not David
enlarge his sorowe *Poetlike.
- 1842 Tennyson Edwin Morris 27 - Poet-like he spoke.
- 1903 A. W. Patterson Schumann 140 - May not the shadow
of the gloom that already brooded over him..already have been overclouding the
mental vision of the *poet-musician?
- 1947 A. Einstein Music in Romantic Era iii. 28 -
Wagner, all his life, thought of himself not merely as a poet-musician.
- 1957 N. Frye Sound & Poetry i. 5 - The
poet-musician of the Renaissance disappeared, and with few exceptions the major
poets of the period gave little thought to the possibilities of musical setting.
- 1839 Clough Early Poems ii. 19 - A fount Of the true
*poet-nectar whence to fill The golden urns of verse.
- 1931 R. L. Mégroz Joseph Conrad's Mind &
Method 154 - Three modern *poet-novelists..might perhaps be bracketed with
Wells among the competitors.
- 1948 F. R. Leavis Great Tradition iii. 128 - It was the
profundity of the pondering that I had in mind when I referred to him
[sc. Henry James] as a `poet-novelist'.
- 1881 O. Wilde Grave of Keats in Poems 145 - O
*poet-painter of our English Land!
- 1943 F. Thompson Candleford Green v. 75 - Dante Gabriel
- 1892 Zangwill Childr. Ghetto I. 164, - I sing..the
restoration of our land, and become the *poet-patriot of my people.
- 1844 Mrs. Browning Vis. Poets Concl. ii, - That same
green forest where had gone The *poet-pilgrim.
- 1886 Blackie in 19th Cent. Apr. 534 - The great
*poet-ploughman of Scotland.
- 1821 Byron Elegy on Keats ii, - The *poet-priest Milman
(So ready to kill man).
- 1847 Tennyson Princ. iii. 256 - If that strange
*Poet-princess with her grand Imaginations might at all be won.
- 1963 M. H. Abrams in N. Frye Romanticism Reconsidered
41 - This voice is that of the *poet-prophets of the Old and New Testaments, now
descending on Blake from..John Milton.
- 1645 R. Stable Elegy on Quarles, Sol. Recant. 64 - A
*Poet-saint he was.
- 1842 S. Lover Handy Andy xxi, - All were silent, for
the *poet-singer was a favourite.
- 1903 L. F. Anderson Anglo-Saxon Scop 27 - To have seen
many lands, to have had a wide and varied experience was considered a
qualification for the poet-singer's calling.
- 1828 Carlyle Misc., Burns (1857) I. 200 - A true
*Poet-soul, for it needs but to be struck, and the sound it yields will be
- 1614 B. Jonson Bart. Fair i. i, - Gi' mee the
man, can..giue the law to all the Poets, and *Poet-suckers i' Towne, because
they are the Players Gossips.
- 1934 Publ. Mod. Lang. Assoc. XLIX. 365 - A *poet-warrior
sings, adding the name of Grendel's conqueror to the role of Germanic heroes.
- 1581 Sidney Apol. Poetrie (Arb.) 47, - I imagine, it
falleth out with these *Poet-whyppers, as with some good women, who often are
sicke, but in fayth they cannot tel where.
- 1844 Mrs. Browning Vis. Poets cvii, - And Sappho..O
- 1856 Mrs. Browning Aur. Leigh v. 545 - They sound
strange As..lovely *poet-words grown obsolete.
- 1839 Bailey Festus xx. (1852) 370 - There is a
*poet-worship, one of other Which is idolatry, and not the true Love-service of
the soul to God.
e Combinations with poets' or poet's: poets'
cassia, the fragrant shrub anciently called cassia, supposed to
be Osyris alba (see
cassia 3); Poets'
Corner, (a)name for a part of the south transept of
Westminster Abbey, which contains the graves and monuments of several
distinguished poets (called, in the Spectator 1711, `the poetical
poetical a. 1); (b)applied
humorously to a part of a newspaper or other periodical containing short
poetical contributions; poet's daffodil = poets' narcissus;
poets' (or poet's) narcissus, the common white narcissus, N.
poeticus; also =
pheasant's eye 2; poets'
rosemary = poets' cassia.
- 1760 J. Lee Introd. Bot. App. 323 - *Poet's Cassia,
- 1765 Falconer Demag. 235 - While his demure Welch goat,
with lifted hoof, In *Poet's corner hangs each flimsy woof.
- 1766 Entick London IV. 417 - An iron gate opens into
the south cross isle; which from the number of monuments erected therein to
celebrated English poets, has obtained the name of The Poets Corner.
- 1781 W. Cowper Let. 27 Feb. (1908) 60 - If you please
you may send it [sc. a poem] to the Poet's Corner.
- 1785 Crabbe Newspaper ad fin., - The Poet's Corner is
the place they choose, A fatal nursery for an infant Muse; Unlike that Corner
where true Poets lie.
- 1881 Antiquary Oct. 137 - Westminster Abbey: a Study on Poets'
- 1772 R. Weston Universal Botanist III. 504 - Poetic or
Common pale Daffodil, or Narcissus.
- 1870 W. Robinson Wild Garden ii. 112 - *Poet's
Daffodil. Narcissus poeticus. Southern Europe.
- 1841 *Poet's narcissus [see
- 1883 W. Robinson Eng. Flower Garden 192/2 - The finer
types of the Poet's Narcissus should be grown for cutting.
- 1936 L. B. Wilder Adventures with Hardy Bulbs 19 - The
Poets Narcissus is perfect for dampish locations.
- 1965 H. Ramsbotham tr. Schauenberg's Bulb Bk. iii.
229 - This is the Poet's narcissus, one of the most widely distributed
- 1977 R. Genders Scented Flora of World 322/2
(heading) - The Poet's Narcissus and Hybrids.
- 1597 Gerarde Herbal iii. vi. 1110 - The *Poets
Rosemarie or Gardrobe, Casia Poetica L'Obelij.
- 1760 J. Lee Introd. Bot. App. 323 - Poet's Rosemary,