American Poetry from the 1700s

During this time American poetry was written in old English.  Old English is a way of writing and talking and it started even before the 1600s. The way we speak and write today evolved from Old English.

Here are some examples of Old English sayings:

The Clink - the name of a prison on Clink Street in London

Patent leather - Young women wore patent shoes in the buttery and when cream spilled onto their shoes, the fat would make the leather glossy.

Beat around the bush - Birds were scared out of a bush and killed.

Cut through the red tape - Solicitors would keep papers in a folder tied with red ribbon so that the papers didn't fall out, and to get the papers out, you would need to cut through the tape.

Getting tanked - People would say you were tanked if you drank too much out of a tankard.


Many poets were educated during this time. Even some slaves were educated! There were many male poets, and not many female poets in the 18th century.