Literature

The Best American Poets 

Ranker Books
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Updated March 31, 2020 10.7k votes 1.9k voters 37.4k views 111 items

List Rules Vote up the American-born poets with the greatest bodies of work.

Who is the best American poet? This list includes poets such as William Faulkner, Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, and Robert Frost. From the postcolonial era to modernism, to post-WWII, to present day, great American poets continue to make us think. This list features the best American poets, who have entertained and touched readers throughout history.

We often feel an emotional connection to poetry. It all begins with the words written on the page. Whether short or long poetry is often illusory, and full of rich imagery or hidden meaning. It is these elements which provoke us as readers to dig deeper. The best of 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 us places and into the lives of those we’ve never imagined. Poets are often be tortured souls or great thinkers who allow us a new view of world which we never would have imagined. These greatest American poets provide the kind of emotional connection with the reader that few can. They are moving, saddening, or romantic.

Vote up the best American poets below or add the poet from the United States you think is the greatest if he or she isn't already on the list.
list ordered by
1
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best American Poets
Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself, Words of Ages
2
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best American Poets
The complete poems, The letters, Acts of Light: The World of Emily Dickinson
3
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best American Poets
The Collected Poems, Come in, The Road Not Taken
4
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best American Poets
The Waste Land, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats
5
Wallace Stevens is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best American Poets
The Emperor of Ice-Cream, Harmonium, Invective Against Swans
6
E. E. Cummings is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best American Poets
The Enormous Room, Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town, anyone lived in a pretty how town
7
William Carlos Williams ... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best American Poets
In the American Grain, Spring and All, Sour Grapes
8
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best American Poets
The Raven, Annabel Lee, The Fall of the House of Usher
9
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best American Poets
Social Credit. An Impact, The Cantos, A B C of economics
10
Henry Wadsworth Longfell... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best American Poets
Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie, The Village Blacksmith
11
Ralph Waldo Emerson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best American Poets
The fortune of the Republic, English traits, Representative Men
12
Allen Ginsberg is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best American Poets
Howl, Collected poems 1947-1980, Kaddish
13
Carl Sandburg is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best American Poets
The Greatest Story Ever Told, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years, Chicago poems
14
Elizabeth Bishop is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best American Poets
Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters
15
Hart Crane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best American Poets
Hart Crane: Complete Poems and Selected Letters, O My Land, My Friends: The Selected Letters of Hart Crane
16
Maya Angelou is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best American Poets
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Sister, Sister
17
Jim Morrison is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best American Poets
ShawnClark added HWY: An American Pastoral, Wilderness, The Lords
18
Robert Lowell is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best American Poets
Life Studies, Collected Prose, Near the ocean
19
Langston Hughes is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best American Poets
Fine Clothes to the Jew, Black Misery, Not Without Laughter
20
Theodore Roethke is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best American Poets
The Far Field, The lost son, and other poems
21
Robinson Jeffers is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best American Poets
The beginning & the end, and other poems, Z̆eny od mysu Sur
22
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best American Poets
looksharp added Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, The Confidence-Man
23
Marianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best American Poets
The Selected Letters of Marianne Moore, Homage to Henry James, Tell me
24
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best American Poets
Ed Glomski added The Bell Jar, Ariel, The Collected Poems
25
Gary Snyder is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best American Poets
The Practice of the Wild, Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems, Earth house hold