poet laureate

pl. poets laureate.
1. (in Great Britain) a poet appointed for life as an officer of the royal household, formerly expected to write poems in celebration of court and national events.
2. a poet recognized or acclaimed as the most eminent or representative of a country or locality.
3. (formerly) a poet whose efforts were officially recognized, as by a sovereign, university, etc.
[1350-1400; ME]

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Title first granted in England for poetic excellence.

Begun in 1616, the office was formally established in 1668 and has been continuous since then. Its holder, a salaried member of the British royal household, was formerly expected to compose poems for court or national occasions, but since the appointment of William Wordsworth in 1843 the office has been a reward for eminence in poetry and has carried no specific duties. In 1985 the U.S. government created the title of poet laureate, to be held by the consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress.

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▪ literary title
      title first granted in England for poetic excellence. Its holder is a salaried member of the British royal household, but the post has come to be free of specific poetic duties. The title of the office stems from a tradition, dating to the earliest Greek and Roman times, of honouring achievement with a crown of laurel, a tree sacred to Apollo, patron of poets.

      The office is remarkable for its continuity. It began with a pension granted to Ben Jonson (Jonson, Ben) by James I in 1616, confirmed and increased by Charles I in 1630 (when an annual “butt of Canary wine” was added, to be discontinued at the request of Henry James Pye (Pye, Henry James)—made laureate in 1790—who preferred the equivalent in money). Jonson's pension specifically recognized his services to the crown as a poet and envisaged their continuance, but not until 16 months after Jonson's death in 1637 was a similar pension for similar services granted to Sir William Davenant (Davenant, Sir William). It was with John Dryden (Dryden, John)'s appointment in 1668, within a week of Davenant's death, that the laureateship was recognized as an established royal office to be filled automatically when vacant.

      During the Glorious Revolution (1688–89), Dryden was dismissed for refusing the oath of allegiance, and this gave the appointment a political flavour, which it retained for more than 200 years. Dryden's successor, Thomas Shadwell (Shadwell, Thomas), inaugurated the custom of producing New Year and birthday odes; this hardened into a tradition between 1690 and about 1820, becoming the principal mark of the office. The odes were set to music and performed in the sovereign's presence. On his appointment in 1813, Robert Southey (Southey, Robert) sought unsuccessfully to end this custom, but, although it was allowed tacitly to lapse, it was only finally abolished by Queen Victoria (Victoria). Her appointment of William Wordsworth (Wordsworth, William) in 1843 signified that the laureateship had become the reward for eminence in poetry, and the office since then has carried no specific duties. The laureates from Alfred Tennyson (Tennyson, Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron) onward have written poems for royal and national occasions as the spirit has moved them.

       Poets laureate of BritainFor a list of poets laureate, see the table (Poets laureate of Britain).

       Poets laureate of the United StatesIn the United States, a position similar to that of the British poet laureate—the chair of poetry at the Library of Congress—was established in 1936 by an endowment from the author Archer M. Huntington. In 1985 the U.S. government created a title of poet laureate, to be held by the same person who holds the post of consultant in poetry for the Library of Congress. The American poet laureate receives a modest stipend and is expected to present one major poetic work and to appear at certain national ceremonies. For a list of the American poets who held the post of consultant in poetry (with dates of tenure) and the later poets laureate, see the table (Poets laureate of the United States).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Poet laureate — (von lat. poeta laureatus = lorbeergekrönter Dichter) ist im Vereinigten Königreich und den USA ein jeweils von Staats wegen besonders ausgezeichneter Dichter. Die Bezeichnung kommt aus der antiken Tradition, hervorragende Dichter mit einem… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Poet Laureate — (von lat. poeta laureatus = lorbeergekrönter Dichter) ist im Vereinigten Königreich und den USA ein jeweils von Staats wegen besonders ausgezeichneter Dichter. Die Bezeichnung kommt aus der antiken Tradition, hervorragende Dichter mit einem… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Poet laureate — Laureate Lau re*ate, a. [L. laureatus, fr. laurea laurel tree, fr. laureus of laurel, fr. laurus laurel: cf. F. laur[ e]at. Cf. {Laurel}.] Crowned, or decked, with laurel. Chaucer. [1913 Webster] To strew the laureate hearse where Lycid lies.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Poet laureate — Poet Po et, n. [F. po[ e]te, L. po[ e]ta, fr. Gr. ?, fr. ? to make. Cf. {Poem}.] One skilled in making poetry; one who has a particular genius for metrical composition; the author of a poem; an imaginative thinker or writer. [1913 Webster] The… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • poet laureate — n. pl. poets laureate or poet laureates 1. the court poet of England, appointed for life by the monarch, traditionally to write poems celebrating official occasions, national events, etc. 2. the official or most respected poet of any specific… …   English World dictionary

  • poet laureate — plural poets laureate n a poet who is chosen by a king, queen, president etc to write poems on important national occasions …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Poet Laureate — The plural is Poets Laureate, although Poet Laureates is often used …   Modern English usage

  • Poet Laureate — ► NOUN (pl. Poets Laureate) ▪ a poet appointed by the British sovereign to write poems for royal and official occasions …   English terms dictionary

  • Poet laureate —   [ poʊɪt lɔːrɪət, englisch; vergleiche Poeta laureatus], in England inoffiziell zuerst an B. Jonson, offiziell zuerst an J. Dryden verliehenes, honoriertes Hofamt, früher mit der Verpflichtung verbunden, zu feierlichen Anlässen Gedichte zu… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Poet Laureate — A Poet Laureate is a poet officially appointed by a government and is often expected to compose poems for State occasions and other government events. The plural form is poets laureate.In England, the term has for centuries been the title of the… …   Wikipedia

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