poetry The Best Poets of the 20th Century  

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List Rules Vote up the best poets working between 1900-1999 in any language. Only written-word poetry; no musical lyrics!

Who are the best 20th century poets? This list includes great poets from the 20th century such as Maya Angelou, T.S. Eliot, James Baldwin, and Robert Frost. Though the genre of poetry has a rich history, dating back many centuries, the 1900s have seen some truly great poets and poetry. From modernist poetry and imagism to more traditional forms, the poets on this list have mastered their craft.

Written works have the ability to make us feel. They make us want to believe, be inspired, and live vicariously through the stories on the page. Whether short or long form, poetry is often illusory, and full of rich imagery or hidden meaning. It is these elements which provoke readers to dig deeper. The best poems and poets are read throughout the ages. They are passed from generation to generation and taught throughout schools to young students.

Poets and their poetry have the ability to take readers places and into worlds never imagined. Poets can often be tortured souls or great thinkers that allow readers a new view on the world. These greatest 20th century poets provide the kind of emotional connection to the written word that few can, and do so in a modern way. Among them are some of the top writers and poets of all time.

Vote up the best poets from the 20th century on the list below, or add a 20th century poet if he or she is not already on the list.

list ordered by

1
+ - 415 176
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
T. S. Eliot The Wasteland, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Hollow Men

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2
+ - 395 144
William Butler Yeats is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
William Butler Yeats When You Are Old, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, Never Give All The Heart

3
+ - 312 159
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Robert Frost The Road Not Taken, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Mending Wall

4
+ - 199 101
Dylan Thomas is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Dylan Thomas Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, And Death Shall Have No Dominion, Fern Hill

5
+ - 142 100
William Carlos Williams is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
William Carlos Williams The Red Wheelbarrow, This Is Just to Say, A Song of a Song

6
+ - 217 112
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Emily Dickinson September's Baccalaureate, Silence Is All We Need, The Savior Must Have Been A Docile Gentleman

7
+ - 146 85
W. H. Auden is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
W. H. Auden Funeral Blues, Cocaine Lil and Morphine Sue, A Walk After Dark

8
+ - 235 103
Ranier Maria Rilke is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Ranier Maria Rilke At The Brink Of Night, Behind the Blameless Trees, Falconry

9
+ - 174 90
Fernando Pessoa is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Fernando Pessoa Livro Do Desassossego

10
+ - 173 97
Wallace Stevens is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wallace Stevens The Emperor of Ice-Cream, Sunday Morning, Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock

11
+ - 271 165
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar, Ariel, The Collected Poems

12
+ - 144 85
Seamus Heaney is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Seamus Heaney Blackberry-Picking, Mid-Term Break, Death of a Naturalist

13
+ - 146 87
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Ezra Pound A Girl, In a Station of the Metro, And the Days Are Not Full Enough

14
+ - 218 97
Pablo Neruda is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Pablo Neruda I Do Not Love You, If You Forget Me, Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines

15
+ - 179 157
Allen Ginsberg is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Allen Ginsberg Howl, Father Death Blues, A Supermarket in California

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16
+ - 201 127
E. E. Cummings is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
e.e. cummings i carry your heart with me, may i feel said he, maggie and milly and molly and may

17
+ - 98 51
Federico García Lorca is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Federico García Lorca The Open Balcony, Viaje a la luna, Blind Grace

18
+ - 96 68
Elizabeth Bishop is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Elizabeth Bishop One Art, I Am in Need of Music, The Fish

19
+ - 191 147
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Charles Bukowski A Smile to Remember, On the Fire Suicides of the Buddhists, So You Want to Be a Writer

20
+ - 51 35
Hart Crane is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Hart Crane Exile, Chaplinesque, Forgetfulness

21
+ - 64 50
Robert Lowell is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Robert Lowell The Old Flame, Skunk Hour, Children of Light

22
+ - 87 60
Philip Larkin is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Philip Larkin Aubade, The Spirit Wood, Since the Majority of Me

23
+ - 136 107
Langston Hughes is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Langston Hughes Dreams, As I Grew Older, Mother to Son

24
+ - 74 52
Czesław Miłosz is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Czesław Miłosz Incantation, Ars Poetica?, I Sleep a Lot

25
+ - 61 20
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself, Words of Ages

26
+ - 44 27
Giuseppe Ungaretti is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Giuseppe Ungaretti Il taccuino del vecchio, 1952-1960, Sentimiento del Tiempo - La Tierra Prometida

27
+ - 87 55
D. H. Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
D. H. Lawrence A Winter's Tale, Self-Pity, Beautiful Old Age

28
+ - 51 35
Marianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Marianne Moore A Grave, He Made This Screen, Silence

29
+ - 37 34
Paul Valéry is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Paul Valéry The Graveyard by the Sea, The Steps, Les Pas

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30
+ - 35 33
Guillaume Apollinaire is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Guillaume Apollinaire L'hérésiarque et Cie, Les Onze Mille Verges ou les Amours d'un hospodar, Alcools

31
+ - 84 45
Constantine P. Cavafy is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Constantine P. Cavafy Ithaca, As Much As You Can, Body Remember

32
+ - 54 43
Theodore Roethke is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Theodore Roethke My Papa's Waltz, I Knew a Woman, Elegy for Jane

33
+ - 53 19
Arthur Rimbaud is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Arthur Rimbaud A Season in Hell, Illuminations, Collected poems

34
+ - 53 42
Marina Tsvetaeva is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Marina Tsvetaeva Much Like Me, Lady with Camelias, Whence Cometh Such Tender Rapture?

35
+ - 74 52
Wilfred Owen is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wilfred Owen Dulce Et Decorum Est, 1914, Anthem for Doomed Youth

36
+ - 36 26
Gottfried Benn is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Gottfried Benn Nach dem Nihilismus, The voice behind the screen, Primäre Tage

37
+ - 81 59
Anna Akhmatova is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Anna Akhmatova Everything, I Taught Myself to Live Simply, You Will Hear Thunder

38
+ - 40 45
Robert Penn Warren is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Robert Penn Warren True Love, Tell Me a Story, Evening Hawk

39
+ - 48 32
Thomas Hardy is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Thomas Hardy I Said to Love, I Need Not Go, A Broken Appointment

40
+ - 43 37
Vladimir Mayakovsky is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Vladimir Mayakovsky Mystery-Bouffe, Night & Morning, The bedbug

41
+ - 77 61
Ted Hughes is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Ted Hughes Lovesong, The Thought-Fox, Full Moon and Little Frieda

42
+ - 34 28
Joseph Brodsky is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Joseph Brodsky I Sit by the Window, Odysseus to Telemachus, A Song

43
+ - 65 37
George Seferis is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
George Seferis The Leaf of the Poplar, In the Sea Caves, The Jasmin

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44
+ - 58 45
Wislawa Symborska is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wislawa Symborska

45
+ - 18 14
Zbigniew Herbert is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Zbigniew Herbert Report from the Besieged City & Other Poems, Interrogation of an Angel, Zbigniew Herbert

46
+ - 29 18
Tomas Tranströmer is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Tomas Tranströmer Fängelse, The Sorrow Gondola, Baltics

47
+ - 39 29
Gary Snyder is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Gary Snyder Hay for the Horses, For Lew Welch in a Snowfall, December at Yae

48
+ - 32 25
Stefan George is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century

49
+ - 45 51
W. S. Merwin is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
W. S. Merwin For the Anniversary of My Death, Air, December Night

50
+ - 24 24
William Stafford is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
William Stafford I Would Also Like to Mention Aluminum, The rescued year, The animal that drank up sound