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.

1
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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
+ - 363 149
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
+ - 282 129
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
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Fernando Pessoa is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Fernando Pessoa Livro Do Desassossego

5
+ - 174 81
Dylan Thomas is listed (or ranked) 5 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

6
+ - 206 86
Ranier Maria Rilke is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Ranier Maria Rilke At The Brink Of Night, Behind the Blameless Trees, Falconry

7
+ - 189 83
Pablo Neruda is listed (or ranked) 7 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

8
+ - 188 97
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
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Wallace Stevens is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wallace Stevens The Emperor of Ice-Cream, Sunday Morning, Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock

10
+ - 238 144
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
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Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 11 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

12
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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
+ - 129 72
W. H. Auden is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
W. H. Auden Funeral Blues, Cocaine Lil and Morphine Sue, A Walk After Dark

14
+ - 119 88
William Carlos Williams is listed (or ranked) 14 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

15
+ - 178 112
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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Arthur Rimbaud is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Arthur Rimbaud A Season in Hell, Illuminations, Collected poems

17
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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
+ - 76 41
D. H. Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
D. H. Lawrence A Winter's Tale, Self-Pity, Beautiful Old Age

19
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Constantine P. Cavafy is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Constantine P. Cavafy Ithaca, As Much As You Can, Body Remember

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

21
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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
+ - 75 49
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
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Elizabeth Bishop is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Elizabeth Bishop One Art, I Am in Need of Music, The Fish

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Giuseppe Ungaretti is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Giuseppe Ungaretti Il taccuino del vecchio, 1952-1960, Sentimiento del Tiempo - La Tierra Prometida

25
+ - 59 27
George Seferis is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
George Seferis The Leaf of the Poplar, In the Sea Caves, The Jasmin

26
+ - 66 43
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
+ - 161 140
Allen Ginsberg is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Allen Ginsberg Howl, Father Death Blues, A Supermarket in California

28
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Gottfried Benn is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Gottfried Benn Nach dem Nihilismus, The voice behind the screen, Primäre Tage

29
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Wilfred Owen is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wilfred Owen Dulce Et Decorum Est, 1914, Anthem for Doomed Youth

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Hart Crane is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Hart Crane Exile, Chaplinesque, Forgetfulness

31
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Gwendolyn Brooks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Gwendolyn Brooks In the Mecca; Poems, Annie Allen

32
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Robinson Jeffers is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Robinson Jeffers The beginning & the end, and other poems, Z̆eny od mysu Sur

33
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Theodore Roethke is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Theodore Roethke My Papa's Waltz, I Knew a Woman, Elegy for Jane

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

35
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Langston Hughes is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Langston Hughes Dreams, As I Grew Older, Mother to Son

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

37
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Guillaume Apollinaire is listed (or ranked) 37 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

38
+ - 41 24
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
+ - 68 50
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
+ - 72 54
Anna Akhmatova is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Anna Akhmatova Everything, I Taught Myself to Live Simply, You Will Hear Thunder

41
+ - 46 35
Marina Tsvetaeva is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Marina Tsvetaeva Much Like Me, Lady with Camelias, Whence Cometh Such Tender Rapture?

42
+ - 25 11
Tomas Tranströmer is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Tomas Tranströmer Fängelse, The Sorrow Gondola, Baltics

43
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Gary Snyder is listed (or ranked) 43 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

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+ - 30 17
Stefan George is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century

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+ - 24 8
Antonio Machado is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Antonio Machado Páginas escogidas, Antologia Apocrifa, Border of a dream

46
+ - 50 42
Robert Lowell is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Robert Lowell The Old Flame, Skunk Hour, Children of Light

47
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Robert Brasillach is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Robert Brasillach A translation of Notre avant-guerre/Before the war by Robert Brasillach

48
+ - 14 6
Zbigniew Herbert is listed (or ranked) 48 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

49
+ - 24 17
Richard Wilbur is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Richard Wilbur Boy at the Window, A Fable, Love Calls Us to the Things of This World

50
+ - 12 2
Frank O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Frank O'Hara Poems from the Tibor de Nagy editions, 1952-1966, Invitation to the theater