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
430 184
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

The Greatest Poets of All Time The Best Novels Ever Written

2
407 148
William Butler Yeats is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
paulodonoghue361 added William Butler Yeats When You Are Old, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, Never Give All The Heart

3
324 163
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
205 105
Dylan Thomas is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
JimVeltman added Dylan Thomas Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, And Death Shall Have No Dominion, Fern Hill

5
146 107
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
153 88
W. H. Auden is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added W. H. Auden Funeral Blues, Cocaine Lil and Morphine Sue, A Walk After Dark

7
228 119
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Emily Dickinson September's Baccalaureate, Silence Is All We Need, The Savior Must Have Been A Docile Gentleman

8
241 106
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
183 91
Fernando Pessoa is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
BibekSen added Fernando Pessoa Livro Do Desassossego

10
284 168
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar, Ariel, The Collected Poems

11
177 99
Wallace Stevens is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wallace Stevens The Emperor of Ice-Cream, Sunday Morning, Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock

12
149 87
Seamus Heaney is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
paulodonoghue361 added Seamus Heaney Blackberry-Picking, Mid-Term Break, Death of a Naturalist

13
153 90
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Ezra Pound A Girl, In a Station of the Metro, And the Days Are Not Full Enough

14
220 100
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
208 128
E. E. Cummings is listed (or ranked) 15 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

The 10 Most Tortured Beat Generation Poets The Best Autobiographies Ever Written

16
182 161
Allen Ginsberg is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Allen Ginsberg Howl, Father Death Blues, A Supermarket in California

17
100 52
Federico García Lorca is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
MitrovicMarko added Federico García Lorca The Open Balcony, Viaje a la luna, Blind Grace

18
100 69
Elizabeth Bishop is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
ryanmcw added Elizabeth Bishop One Art, I Am in Need of Music, The Fish

19
194 153
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
clash1977 added Charles Bukowski A Smile to Remember, On the Fire Suicides of the Buddhists, So You Want to Be a Writer

20
51 36
Hart Crane is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Hart Crane Exile, Chaplinesque, Forgetfulness

21
90 61
Philip Larkin is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Philip Larkin Aubade, The Spirit Wood, Since the Majority of Me

22
66 52
Robert Lowell is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Robert Lowell The Old Flame, Skunk Hour, Children of Light

23
139 108
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
76 53
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
64 20
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
العابر بنعال من ريح added Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself, Words of Ages

26
88 56
D. H. Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
D. H. Lawrence A Winter's Tale, Self-Pity, Beautiful Old Age

27
53 36
Marianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Marianne Moore A Grave, He Made This Screen, Silence

28
44 28
Giuseppe Ungaretti is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Mollevangsvagen added Giuseppe Ungaretti Il taccuino del vecchio, 1952-1960, Sentimiento del Tiempo - La Tierra Prometida

29
38 35
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

Famous Poets Who Committed Suicide Fun Jobs That Pay Well

30
36 34
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
88 46
Constantine P. Cavafy is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
ΔημήτρηςΠιλλάς added Constantine P. Cavafy Ithaca, As Much As You Can, Body Remember

32
55 19
Arthur Rimbaud is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
العابر بنعال من ريح added Arthur Rimbaud A Season in Hell, Illuminations, Collected poems

33
56 43
Marina Tsvetaeva is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
annaroza added Marina Tsvetaeva Much Like Me, Lady with Camelias, Whence Cometh Such Tender Rapture?

34
55 44
Theodore Roethke is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Theodore Roethke My Papa's Waltz, I Knew a Woman, Elegy for Jane

35
38 27
Gottfried Benn is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Mollevangsvagen added Gottfried Benn Nach dem Nihilismus, The voice behind the screen, Primäre Tage

36
84 60
Anna Akhmatova is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Anna Akhmatova Everything, I Taught Myself to Live Simply, You Will Hear Thunder

37
74 53
Wilfred Owen is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wilfred Owen Dulce Et Decorum Est, 1914, Anthem for Doomed Youth

38
40 46
Robert Penn Warren is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Robert Penn Warren True Love, Tell Me a Story, Evening Hawk

39
49 33
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
63 46
Wislawa Symborska is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wislawa Symborska

41
79 64
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
43 38
Vladimir Mayakovsky is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
MitrovicMarko added Vladimir Mayakovsky Mystery-Bouffe, Night & Morning, The bedbug

43
34 29
Joseph Brodsky is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
alastairharris11 added Joseph Brodsky I Sit by the Window, Odysseus to Telemachus, A Song

The Best English Poets of All Time The Best Coffee Drink Brands

44
65 38
George Seferis is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
ΔημήτρηςΠιλλάς added George Seferis The Leaf of the Poplar, In the Sea Caves, The Jasmin

45
19 15
Zbigniew Herbert is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Jordan C. Langer added Zbigniew Herbert Report from the Besieged City & Other Poems, Interrogation of an Angel, Zbigniew Herbert

46
30 19
Tomas Tranströmer is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
stubb added Tomas Tranströmer Fängelse, The Sorrow Gondola, Baltics

47
39 30
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
46 52
W. S. Merwin is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
W. S. Merwin For the Anniversary of My Death, Air, December Night

49
25 25
William Stafford is listed (or ranked) 49 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

50
32 26
Stefan George is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Mollevangsvagen added Stefan George