British

The Best English Poets of All Time 

Ranker Books
Originally by
Updated March 4, 2020 13.6k votes 4.5k voters 128.8k views 111 items

List Rules Vote up the greatest poets from England of all time.

Who is the best English poet? From the Renaissance, to the Jacobean era, to the Restoration, to the modern day, great English poets have been making readers think across the ages. If you love to debate, "Who is the best poet in English literature?" then this is the list for you. 

Written works have the ability to make us feel. They make us want to believe, be inspired, and live vicariously through the stories we read on the page. This list of English poets and their works demonstrate this particular skill. It all begins with the words written 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 and make poetry so engaging and moving.

The best of poems and poets are read throughout the ages. They are read from generation to generation and taught throughout school 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 tortured souls or great thinkers who show readers a new view of the world they never would have imagined. This list includes the great English poets, such as Rudyard Kipling, John Keats, Geoffrey Chaucer, and William Shakespeare. 

These greatest English poets provide the kind of emotional connection to the written word that few can. So, who are the best of the famous English poets? Vote up the absolute best English poets on the list below, or add a famous poet from England who is truly great, but isn't already on the list.

 

list ordered by
1
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?, My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun, All the World's a Stage

Age: Dec. at 52 (1564-1616)

Birthplace: Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom

More William Shakespeare 

29 Macbeth Memes That Make Our Cauldrons Bubble #1 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #18 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive

2
John Keats is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
Bright Star, Ode on a Grecian Urn, A Thing of Beauty (Endymion)

Age: Dec. at 26 (1795-1821)

Birthplace: Moorgate, London, England

More John Keats 

The Best John Keats Quotes #76 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #813 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

3
William Wordsworth is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
looksharp added I wandered lonely as a cloud, The world is too much with us, Daffodils

Age: Dec. at 80 (1770-1850)

Birthplace: Wordsworth House, United Kingdom

More William Wordsworth 

#96 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #856 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time #526 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

4
John Milton is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
Paradise Lost, On His Blindness, How Soon Hath Time

Age: Dec. at 66 (1608-1674)

Birthplace: Europe, Eurasia, United Kingdom, London, England, + more

More John Milton 

The Best John Milton Quotes #54 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #75 of 256 The Best Gay Authors

5
William Blake is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
The Tiger, A Poison Tree, Auguries of Innocence

Age: Dec. at 70 (1757-1827)

Birthplace: Soho, London, United Kingdom

More William Blake 

#177 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #279 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #191 of 373 The Greatest Poets of All Time

6
Geoffrey Chaucer is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
7
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
looksharp added The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock

Age: Dec. at 77 (1888-1965)

Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri

More T. S. Eliot 

The Best T. S. Eliot Quotes #53 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #14 of 256 The Best Gay Authors

8
Percy Bysshe Shelley is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
Percy Bysshe Shelley Ozymandias, Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark

Age: Dec. at 30 (1792-1822)

Birthplace: Horsham, United Kingdom

More Percy Bysshe Shelley 

The Best Percy Bysshe Shelley Quotes #144 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #68 of 373 The Greatest Poets of All Time

9
John Donne is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
looksharp added Dead Be Not Proud, For whom the Bell Tolls, No Man Is an Island

Age: Dec. at 59 (1572-1631)

Birthplace: Europe, Eurasia, United Kingdom, London, England, + more

More John Donne 

#127 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #85 of 256 The Best Gay Authors #19 of 373 The Greatest Poets of All Time

10
Rudyard Kipling is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
Mandalay, If, A Child's Garden

Age: Dec. at 71 (1865-1936)

Birthplace: Mumbai, India

More Rudyard Kipling 

The Best Rudyard Kipling Books #87 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #291 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time

11
Samuel Taylor Coleridge ... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
looksharp added The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan, The Suicide's Argument

Age: Dec. at 62 (1772-1834)

Birthplace: Ottery St Mary, United Kingdom

More Samuel Taylor Coleridge 

#194 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #43 of 373 The Greatest Poets of All Time #806 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

12
Alexander Pope is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
looksharp added Ode to Solitude, Eloisa to Abelard, A Dying Christian to His Soul

Age: Dec. at 56 (1688-1744)

Birthplace: Europe, Eurasia, United Kingdom, London, England, + more

More Alexander Pope 

The Best Alexander Pope Quotes #209 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #1,682 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time

13
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Bar... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
The Charge of the Light Brigade, Idylls of the King, The Lady of Shalott

Age: Dec. at 83 (1809-1892)

Birthplace: Eurasia, Somersby, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

More Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson 

#81 of 177 The Best Fantasy Authors #109 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #107 of 256 The Best Gay Authors

14
W. H. Auden is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
Funeral Blues, If I Could Tell You, Cocaine Lil and Morphine Sue

Age: Dec. at 66 (1907-1973)

Birthplace: Eurasia, North Yorkshire, York, United Kingdom, England, + more

More W. H. Auden 

The Best W. H. Auden Quotes #160 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #29 of 256 The Best Gay Authors

15
George Gordon Byron is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
She Walks In Beauty, There Is Pleasure In The Pathless Woods, When We Two

Age: Dec. at 36 (1788-1824)

Birthplace: London

More George Gordon Byron 

#102 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #67 of 256 The Best Gay Authors #109 of 307 The Best Novelists of All Time

16
Gerard Manley Hopkins is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
The Alchemist in the City, God's Grandeur, The Windhover

Age: Dec. at 45 (1844-1889)

Birthplace: Eurasia, United Kingdom, London, Stratford, London, + more

More Gerard Manley Hopkins 

#751 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #124 of 256 The Best Gay Authors #72 of 373 The Greatest Poets of All Time

17
Robert Browning is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
My Last Duchess, A Woman's Last Word, Life in a Love

Age: Dec. at 77 (1812-1889)

Birthplace: Camberwell, London, United Kingdom

More Robert Browning 

#478 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #33 of 373 The Greatest Poets of All Time #88 of 124 Famous People Buried at Westminster Abbey

18
Edmund Spenser is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
The Faerie Queene, My Love Is Like to Ice, Epithalamion

Age: Dec. at 47 (1552-1599)

Birthplace: London, United Kingdom

More Edmund Spenser 

#279 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #71 of 373 The Greatest Poets of All Time #28 of 124 Famous People Buried at Westminster Abbey

19
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
Her Voice, A Vision, Flower of Love

Age: Dec. at 46 (1854-1900)

Birthplace: Ireland, Ireland, Europe, Dublin

More Oscar Wilde 

The Best Oscar Wilde Quotes #19 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #1 of 256 The Best Gay Authors

20
Robert Burns is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
Auld Lang Syne, A Red Red Rose, My Heart's In the Highlands

Age: Dec. at 37 (1759-1796)

Birthplace: Alloway, United Kingdom

More Robert Burns 

#747 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #748 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #117 of 373 The Greatest Poets of All Time

21
Christina Rossetti is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
looksharp added What Is Pink?, The Skylark, From Queens' Gardens

Age: Dec. at 64 (1830-1894)

Birthplace: London, United Kingdom

22
Thomas Hardy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure, The Mayor of Casterbridge: The Life and Death of a Man of Character

Age: Dec. at 88 (1840-1928)

Birthplace: Stinsford, England

More Thomas Hardy 

#95 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #61 of 307 The Best Novelists of All Time #186 of 341 The Greatest American Writers of All Time

23
Elizabeth Barrett Browni... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
How Do I Love Thee? If Thou Must Love Me, A Curse for a Nation

Age: Dec. at 55 (1806-1861)

Birthplace: Kelloe, United Kingdom

More Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

#424 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #69 of 115 Dying Words: Last Words Spoken By Famous People At Death #65 of 247 The Best Female Authors of All Time

24
Dylan Thomas is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
A prospect of the sea, Under Milk Wood, Under Milk Wood

Age: Dec. at 39 (1914-1953)

Birthplace: Swansea, United Kingdom

More Dylan Thomas 

#104 of 373 The Greatest Poets of All Time #957 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #3 of 214 The Best Poets of the 20th Century

25
Philip Larkin is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best English Poets of All Time
Aubade, Church Going, Faith Healing

Age: Dec. at 63 (1922-1985)

Birthplace: Coventry, United Kingdom

More Philip Larkin 

#287 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #106 of 373 The Greatest Poets of All Time #21 of 214 The Best Poets of the 20th Century