What Is Panegyric Poetry


Panegyric poetry is a form of praise poetry that has been used for many centuries to celebrate individuals, religious and political figures, heroes, and events. It is an intentional and organized form of writing, as opposed to a spontaneous overflow of emotion. It is most often written in a formal style, including elements like a preface and an encomium, an enumeration of the subject’s qualities and accomplishments. Panegyric poems often employ rhyme, metaphors, and allusions to other authors and epic literature.


The earliest recorded panegyric poem can be found in the mid-14th century in India. This poem was written in honor of the ruler Dasharatha, and would later be adapted by William Dunbar into the English. The form was popularized in England during the Renaissance and the Victorian era, where it was written both by poets and by courtiers. The poems typically served to glorify the achievements of their subject, and could be addressed to individuals, nations, or groups of people. During the Romantic period, poets often used the form to celebrate nature and events in their lives.


The purpose of panegyric poetry is to honor and glorify the subject while also expressing admiration and respect. It is meant to be laudatory and inspiring, and to promote the virtues and accomplishments of the subject. The form is used to highlight the individual qualities of the subject, and in many cases to propagate a particular message or ideology. Poets use metaphor, imagery, and irony to create a powerful and lasting impression of the subject.

Styles & Structure

The style and structure of panegyric poems vary. Some poets choose to use an established poetic form, such as a sonnet, while others may use free verse. Panegyric poems often take a biographical approach, highlighting the life and accomplishments of the subject, and some even expound upon prophecies for the future of their subject. Poets may also use symbols and imagery to further emphasize the greatness of their subject. Irrespective of the style, all panegyric poems should have the same end goal, to eulogize and glorify the subject.


There are many famous examples of panegyric poetry, ranging from literary masterpieces to political polemics. One of the most famous examples is William Wordsworth’s “The Prelude”, which is a tribute to nature and the power of the imagination. Another famous example is “The Masque of Anarchy” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, which is a scathing condemnation of British government at the time. Similarly, Sylvia Plath’s “Ariel” is a celebration of the life-giving powers of nature, and Robert Burns’ “A Red, Red Rose” extols love and beauty.


Panegyric poetry is a form of praise poetry that has been used for centuries to celebrate individuals, religious and political figures, heroes, and events. Its purpose is to honor and glorify the subject, and poets may choose any poetic form to achieve this goal. It is a powerful way to recognize someone’s greatness and achievements and to propagate an agenda or ideology.

Contemporary Examples

One of the most famous examples of contemporary panegyric poetry is “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley, a tribute to courage in the face of adversity. Likewise, T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” is a celebration of the beauty of nature. There are also numerous examples of panegyric poetry written today, such as “To the Earth” by Ariana Reines, which is a powerful tribute to the earth, and “My Love” by Lucille Clifton, an ode to a lover.

Impact on Society

Panegyric poetry has played a key role in the history of literature and has been used to express admiration and pay tribute to many influential individuals and causes. They can be used to create a lasting impression of the subject and propagate a particular agenda. They can also be used to stir emotions and inspire others, as seen in T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”, which urges the reader to embrace nature and explore the beauty of the world.

Modern Usage

Panegyric poetry is still used today and is often found in song lyrics, literature, films, and television shows. In the music world, many acts have written tribute songs to celebrate the achievements of their predecessors and to pay homage to legendary artists. In literature, panegyric poems are often used to highlight the impact of important figures in history, from scientists and political leaders to entertainers and athletes. They can also be used to celebrate events, such as John Milton’s “On the Late Massacre in Piedmont”, which is a tribute to the victims of a 1655 massacre.


One of the key techniques used in panegyric poetry is hyperbole, or the use of exaggeration and embellishment to emphasize the greatness of the subject. Poets also employ metaphor, imagery, and allusion to create a more vivid picture of their subject. They use symbols and imagery to further drive home the message. Finally, panegyric poems typically involve intense emotion, and poets often use vivid language and powerful descriptions to stir emotion and evoke feeling in the reader.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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