1638 in poetry
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- May - English poet John Milton sets out for a tour of the European continent. He spends the summer in Florence.
- Henry Adamson, Muses Threnodie: of Mirthful Mournings on the death of Mr Gall, Edinburgh, noted for giving a general description of Perth in the 17th century; published with the encouragement of Adamson's friend, William Drummond
- Charles Aleyn, The History of Henry the Seventh
- Richard Brathwaite, writing under the pen name "Corymboeus", Barnabees Journall, under the Names of Mirtilus & Faustulus Shadowed, Latin and English verse on facing pages
- Robert Chamberlain, Nocturnall Lucubrations; or, Meditations Divine and Morall
- William Davenant, Madagascar; with Other Poems
- Justa Edouardo King Naufrago, by various authors; a collection of elegies dedicated to the memory of Edward King, a college friend of John Milton's at Cambridge who had been drowned in August 1637 when his ship sank in the Irish Sea off the coast of Wales; including Milton's "Lycidas"
- Thomas Nabbes, The Springs of Glorie, verse drama
- Francis Quarles, Hieroglyphikes of the Life of Man
- Thomas Randolph, Poems with the Muses Looking-lasse: and Amyntas
Death years link to the corresponding "[year] in poetry" article:
- January 1 – Antoinette du Ligier de la Garde Deshoulières (died 1694), French poet
- January 24 – Charles Sackville, 6th Earl of Dorset (died 1706), English poet and courtier
Birth years link to the corresponding "[year] in poetry" article:
- February 24 – Charles Fitzgeoffrey (born 1576), English poet and clergyman
- February 25 – Sir Robert Aytoun (born 1570), Scottish poet
- June 25 – Juan Pérez de Montalbán (born 1602), Spanish priest, dramatist, poet and novelist
- August 27 – John Hoskins (born 1566), English poet, classicist, judge and politician
- December 8 – Ivan Gundulić (born 1589), Croatian Baroque poet
- c. December? – John Day (born 1574), English playwright and poet
- Daulat Qazi (born 1600), Bengali poet
- Lewalski, Barbara K. (2003). The Life of John Milton: A Critical Biography (Revised ed.). Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 9780631176657.
- Cox, Michael, ed. (2004). The Concise Oxford Chronology of English Literature. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-860634-6.
- "German Literature". Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Retrieved 2013-12-04.