The Best English Poets of All Time

Over 8.1K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best English Poets of All Time
Voting Rules
Vote up the greatest poets from England of all time.
Latest additions: Allen Tate, Donald Davidson
Most divisive: John Betjeman

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.


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  • William Shakespeare
    Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?, My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun, All the World's a Stage
    3,669 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 52 (1564-1616)
    • Birthplace: Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom

    William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, is renowned for his plays, but his poetic prowess is equally remarkable. His sonnets are considered some of the finest in the English language, exploring themes of love, beauty, and mortality with unparalleled eloquence and depth.

  • William Wordsworth
    I wandered lonely as a cloud, The world is too much with us, Daffodils
    1,509 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 80 (1770-1850)
    • Birthplace: Wordsworth House, United Kingdom

    William Wordsworth, a key figure in the Romantic movement, revolutionized poetry by focusing on nature and the ordinary human experience. His magnum opus, The Prelude, is an autobiographical epic that traces his personal growth and development as a poet.

  • John Keats
    Bright Star, Ode on a Grecian Urn, A Thing of Beauty (Endymion)
    1,802 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 25 (1795-1821)
    • Birthplace: Moorgate, London, England

    John Keats, a Romantic poet, possessed an extraordinary gift for sensuous imagery and emotional intensity. His odes, particularly "Ode to a Nightingale" and "Ode on a Grecian Urn," are celebrated for their vivid evocations of beauty and the transience of life.

  • John Milton
    Paradise Lost, On His Blindness, How Soon Hath Time
    1,408 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 65 (1608-1674)
    • Birthplace: Cheapside, United Kingdom

    John Milton, a 17th-century poet, is best known for his epic poem "Paradise Lost," which recounts the biblical story of humanity's fall from grace. A master of blank verse, Milton's work is characterized by its intellectual rigor and profound exploration of religious and political themes.

  • Percy Bysshe Shelley

    Percy Bysshe Shelley

    Ozymandias, Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark
    770 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 29 (1792-1822)
    • Birthplace: Horsham, United Kingdom

    Percy Bysshe Shelley, another leading Romantic poet, championed radical ideas and the power of imagination. His lyrical works, like "Ozymandias" and "To a Skylark," convey a sense of wonder and challenge conventional beliefs about society, religion, and nature.

  • William Blake
    The Tiger, A Poison Tree, Auguries of Innocence
    849 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 69 (1757-1827)
    • Birthplace: Soho, London, United Kingdom

    William Blake, a visionary poet and artist, defied convention with his prophetic works that blended mysticism, social criticism, and vivid imagination. His illuminated poems, such as "Songs of Innocence and Experience," reveal a unique perspective on the human condition and the divine.