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The Best English Poets of All Time

Updated March 4, 2020 17.6k votes 5.0k voters 147.2k views111 items

List RulesVote 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.

 

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  • William Shakespeare1
    2,118
    777

    William Shakespeare

    Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?, My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun

    AgeDec. at 52 (1564-1616)

    BirthplaceStratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom

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  • John Keats2
    882
    353

    John Keats

    Bright Star, Ode on a Grecian Urn

    AgeDec. at 26 (1795-1821)

    BirthplaceMoorgate, London, England

  • William Wordsworth3
    931
    353

    William Wordsworth

    I wandered lonely as a cloud, The world is too much with us

    AgeDec. at 80 (1770-1850)

    BirthplaceWordsworth House, United Kingdom

  • John Milton4
    783
    322

    John Milton

    Paradise Lost, On His Blindness

    AgeDec. at 66 (1608-1674)

    BirthplaceEurope, Eurasia, United Kingdom, London, England

  • Percy Bysshe Shelley5
    399
    154

    Percy Bysshe Shelley

    Ozymandias, Ode to the West Wind

    AgeDec. at 30 (1792-1822)

    BirthplaceHorsham, United Kingdom

  • Geoffrey Chaucer6
    320
    128

    Geoffrey Chaucer

    The Canterbury Tales

    AgeDec. at 57 (1343-1400)

    BirthplaceEurope, Eurasia, United Kingdom, London, England

  • William Blake7
    459
    190

    William Blake

    The Tiger, A Poison Tree

    AgeDec. at 70 (1757-1827)

    BirthplaceSoho, London, United Kingdom

  • John Donne8
    413
    167

    John Donne

    Dead Be Not Proud, For whom the Bell Tolls

    AgeDec. at 59 (1572-1631)

    BirthplaceEurope, Eurasia, United Kingdom, London, England

  • T. S. Eliot9
    366
    191

    T. S. Eliot

    The Waste Land, The Hollow Men

    AgeDec. at 77 (1888-1965)

    BirthplaceSt. Louis, Missouri

  • George Gordon Byron10
    224
    84

    George Gordon Byron

    She Walks In Beauty, There Is Pleasure In The Pathless Woods

    AgeDec. at 36 (1788-1824)

    BirthplaceLondon

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  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge11
    246
    110

    Samuel Taylor Coleridge

    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan

    AgeDec. at 62 (1772-1834)

    BirthplaceOttery St Mary, United Kingdom

  • Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson12
    210
    104

    Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson

    The Charge of the Light Brigade, Idylls of the King

    AgeDec. at 83 (1809-1892)

    BirthplaceSomersby, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

  • Alexander Pope13
    212
    98

    Alexander Pope

    Ode to Solitude, Eloisa to Abelard

    AgeDec. at 56 (1688-1744)

    BirthplaceEurope, Eurasia, United Kingdom, London, England

  • W. H. Auden14
    159
    69

    W. H. Auden

    Funeral Blues, If I Could Tell You

    AgeDec. at 66 (1907-1973)

    BirthplaceYork, United Kingdom

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  • Edmund Spenser15
    147
    60

    Edmund Spenser

    The Faerie Queene, My Love Is Like to Ice

    AgeDec. at 47 (1552-1599)

    BirthplaceLondon, United Kingdom

  • Gerard Manley Hopkins16
    135
    54

    Gerard Manley Hopkins

    The Alchemist in the City, God's Grandeur

    AgeDec. at 45 (1844-1889)

    BirthplaceStratford, London, London, United Kingdom

  • Thomas Hardy17
    130
    48

    Thomas Hardy

    Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure

    AgeDec. at 88 (1840-1928)

    BirthplaceStinsford, England

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  • Robert Browning18
    166
    80

    Robert Browning

    My Last Duchess, A Woman's Last Word

    AgeDec. at 77 (1812-1889)

    BirthplaceCamberwell, London, United Kingdom

  • Oscar Wilde19
    225
    107

    Oscar Wilde

    Her Voice, A Vision

    AgeDec. at 46 (1854-1900)

    BirthplaceDublin, Republic of Ireland

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  • Rudyard Kipling20
    252
    156

    Rudyard Kipling

    Mandalay, If

    AgeDec. at 71 (1865-1936)

    BirthplaceMumbai, India

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  • Wilfred Owen21
    112
    37

    Wilfred Owen

    Poems of Wilfred Owen, Automotive transportation

    AgeDec. at 25 (1893-1918)

    BirthplaceEurasia, West Midlands, United Kingdom, Borough of Oswestry, England

  • Dylan Thomas22
    159
    60

    Dylan Thomas

    A prospect of the sea, Under Milk Wood

    AgeDec. at 39 (1914-1953)

    BirthplaceSwansea, United Kingdom

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  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning23
    114
    50

    Elizabeth Barrett Browning

    How Do I Love Thee? If Thou Must Love Me, A Curse for a Nation

    AgeDec. at 55 (1806-1861)

    BirthplaceKelloe, United Kingdom

  • Christina Rossetti24
    117
    44

    Christina Rossetti

    What Is Pink?, The Skylark

    AgeDec. at 64 (1830-1894)

    BirthplaceLondon, United Kingdom

  • Philip Larkin25
    111
    52

    Philip Larkin

    Aubade, Church Going

    AgeDec. at 63 (1922-1985)

    BirthplaceCoventry, United Kingdom