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
+ - 384 140
William Butler Yeats is listed (or ranked) 1 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

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2
+ - 406 170
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 2 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

3
+ - 308 154
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
+ - 193 97
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
+ - 229 102
Ranier Maria Rilke is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Ranier Maria Rilke At The Brink Of Night, Behind the Blameless Trees, Falconry

6
+ - 216 95
Pablo Neruda is listed (or ranked) 6 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

7
+ - 172 87
Fernando Pessoa is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Fernando Pessoa Livro Do Desassossego

8
+ - 213 107
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 8 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

9
+ - 266 161
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar, Ariel, The Collected Poems

10
+ - 171 95
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
+ - 138 98
William Carlos Williams is listed (or ranked) 11 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

12
+ - 143 82
W. H. Auden is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
W. H. Auden Funeral Blues, Cocaine Lil and Morphine Sue, A Walk After Dark

13
+ - 143 83
Seamus Heaney is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Seamus Heaney Blackberry-Picking, Mid-Term Break, Death of a Naturalist

14
+ - 142 85
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 14 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

15
+ - 199 124
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

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16
+ - 94 49
Federico García Lorca is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Federico García Lorca The Open Balcony, Viaje a la luna, Blind Grace

17
+ - 94 65
Elizabeth Bishop is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Elizabeth Bishop One Art, I Am in Need of Music, The Fish

18
+ - 56 18
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself, Words of Ages

19
+ - 51 16
Arthur Rimbaud is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Arthur Rimbaud A Season in Hell, Illuminations, Collected poems

20
+ - 83 42
Constantine P. Cavafy is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Constantine P. Cavafy Ithaca, As Much As You Can, Body Remember

21
+ - 184 143
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 21 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

22
+ - 85 58
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
+ - 85 53
D. H. Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
D. H. Lawrence A Winter's Tale, Self-Pity, Beautiful Old Age

24
+ - 134 105
Langston Hughes is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Langston Hughes Dreams, As I Grew Older, Mother to Son

25
+ - 174 155
Allen Ginsberg is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Allen Ginsberg Howl, Father Death Blues, A Supermarket in California

26
+ - 72 50
Czesław Miłosz is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Czesław Miłosz Incantation, Ars Poetica?, I Sleep a Lot

27
+ - 51 33
Hart Crane is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Hart Crane Exile, Chaplinesque, Forgetfulness

28
+ - 41 9
Gwendolyn Brooks is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Gwendolyn Brooks In the Mecca; Poems, Annie Allen

29
+ - 65 36
George Seferis is listed (or ranked) 29 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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30
+ - 50 33
Marianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Marianne Moore A Grave, He Made This Screen, Silence

31
+ - 73 51
Wilfred Owen is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wilfred Owen Dulce Et Decorum Est, 1914, Anthem for Doomed Youth

32
+ - 41 26
Giuseppe Ungaretti is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Giuseppe Ungaretti Il taccuino del vecchio, 1952-1960, Sentimiento del Tiempo - La Tierra Prometida

33
+ - 79 58
Anna Akhmatova is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Anna Akhmatova Everything, I Taught Myself to Live Simply, You Will Hear Thunder

34
+ - 62 48
Robert Lowell is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Robert Lowell The Old Flame, Skunk Hour, Children of Light

35
+ - 52 40
Theodore Roethke is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Theodore Roethke My Papa's Waltz, I Knew a Woman, Elegy for Jane

36
+ - 52 40
Marina Tsvetaeva is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Marina Tsvetaeva Much Like Me, Lady with Camelias, Whence Cometh Such Tender Rapture?

37
+ - 36 25
Gottfried Benn is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Gottfried Benn Nach dem Nihilismus, The voice behind the screen, Primäre Tage

38
+ - 46 31
Thomas Hardy is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Thomas Hardy I Said to Love, I Need Not Go, A Broken Appointment

39
+ - 75 60
Ted Hughes is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Ted Hughes Lovesong, The Thought-Fox, Full Moon and Little Frieda

40
+ - 37 32
Paul Valéry is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Paul Valéry The Graveyard by the Sea, The Steps, Les Pas

41
+ - 63 44
Robinson Jeffers is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Robinson Jeffers The beginning & the end, and other poems, Z̆eny od mysu Sur

42
+ - 34 30
Guillaume Apollinaire is listed (or ranked) 42 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

43
+ - 57 44
Wislawa Symborska is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wislawa Symborska

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44
+ - 29 17
Tomas Tranströmer is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Tomas Tranströmer Fängelse, The Sorrow Gondola, Baltics

45
+ - 42 36
Vladimir Mayakovsky is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Vladimir Mayakovsky Mystery-Bouffe, Night & Morning, The bedbug

46
+ - 33 12
Estelle Vargas is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Estelle Vargas  Laetitia et tormentis, love poems

47
+ - 33 27
Joseph Brodsky is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Joseph Brodsky I Sit by the Window, Odysseus to Telemachus, A Song

48
+ - 38 28
Gary Snyder is listed (or ranked) 48 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

49
+ - 32 24
Stefan George is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century

50
+ - 53 41
Edna St. Vincent Millay is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Edna St. Vincent Millay Fatal interview, The murder of Lidice, The harp-weaver and other poems