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.

list ordered by

1
628 317
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
The Wasteland, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Hollow Men

2
558 223
William Butler Yeats is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
paulodonoghue361 added When You Are Old, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, Never Give All The Heart

3
458 261
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
The Road Not Taken, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Mending Wall

4
283 187
Dylan Thomas is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
JimVeltman added Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, And Death Shall Have No Dominion, Fern Hill

5
368 170
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added September's Baccalaureate, Silence Is All We Need, The Savior Must Have Been A Docile Gentleman

6
197 182
William Carlos Williams is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
The Red Wheelbarrow, This Is Just to Say, A Song of a Song

7
227 138
W. H. Auden is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Funeral Blues, Cocaine Lil and Morphine Sue, A Walk After Dark

8
418 214
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
The Bell Jar, Ariel, The Collected Poems

9
263 135
Fernando Pessoa is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
BibekSen added Livro Do Desassossego

10
341 146
Ranier Maria Rilke is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Ranier Maria Rilke At The Brink Of Night, Behind the Blameless Trees, Falconry

11
238 144
Wallace Stevens is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
The Emperor of Ice-Cream, Sunday Morning, Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock

12
339 132
Pablo Neruda is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
I Do Not Love You, If You Forget Me, Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines

13
216 132
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added A Girl, In a Station of the Metro, And the Days Are Not Full Enough

14
174 80
Federico García Lorca is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
MitrovicMarko added The Open Balcony, Viaje a la luna, Blind Grace

15
230 211
Allen Ginsberg is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Howl, Father Death Blues, A Supermarket in California

16
200 141
Seamus Heaney is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
paulodonoghue361 added Blackberry-Picking, Mid-Term Break, Death of a Naturalist

17
142 94
Elizabeth Bishop is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
ryanmcw added One Art, I Am in Need of Music, The Fish

18
268 163
E. E. Cummings is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
i carry your heart with me, may i feel said he, maggie and milly and molly and may

19
144 49
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
العابر بنعال من ريح added Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself, Words of Ages

20
138 101
Philip Larkin is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Aubade, The Spirit Wood, Since the Majority of Me

21
121 58
Marina Tsvetaeva is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
annaroza added Much Like Me, Lady with Camelias, Whence Cometh Such Tender Rapture?

22
150 72
Anna Akhmatova is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Everything, I Taught Myself to Live Simply, You Will Hear Thunder

23
184 148
Langston Hughes is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Dreams, As I Grew Older, Mother to Son

24
253 216
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
clash1977 added A Smile to Remember, On the Fire Suicides of the Buddhists, So You Want to Be a Writer

25
64 54
Guillaume Apollinaire is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
L'hérésiarque et Cie, Les Onze Mille Verges ou les Amours d'un hospodar, Alcools

26
126 65
Wislawa Symborska is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wislawa Symborska

27
120 41
Arthur Rimbaud is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
العابر بنعال من ريح added A Season in Hell, Illuminations, Collected poems

28
96 70
Czesław Miłosz is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Incantation, Ars Poetica?, I Sleep a Lot

29
81 81
Robert Lowell is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
The Old Flame, Skunk Hour, Children of Light

30
60 56
Paul Valéry is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
The Graveyard by the Sea, The Steps, Les Pas

31
81 56
Marianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added A Grave, He Made This Screen, Silence

32
70 70
Hart Crane is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Exile, Chaplinesque, Forgetfulness

33
122 69
Mary Oliver is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Long Life: Essays And Other Writings, Why I Wake Early: New Poems, White Pine: Poems and Prose Poems

34
136 66
Constantine P. Cavafy is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
ΔημήτρηςΠιλλάς added Ithaca, As Much As You Can, Body Remember

35
62 48
Giuseppe Ungaretti is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Mollevangsvagen added Il taccuino del vecchio, 1952-1960, Sentimiento del Tiempo - La Tierra Prometida

36
76 68
Theodore Roethke is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added My Papa's Waltz, I Knew a Woman, Elegy for Jane

37
117 58
Edna St. Vincent Millay is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Fatal interview, The murder of Lidice, The harp-weaver and other poems

38
73 62
Vladimir Mayakovsky is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
MitrovicMarko added Mystery-Bouffe, Night & Morning, The bedbug

39
106 82
D. H. Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
A Winter's Tale, Self-Pity, Beautiful Old Age

40
103 79
Wilfred Owen is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Dulce Et Decorum Est, 1914, Anthem for Doomed Youth

41
68 68
Paul Celan is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Fugue of Death, In Front of a Candle, Psalm

42
74 61
Thomas Hardy is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
I Said to Love, I Need Not Go, A Broken Appointment

43
109 30
Estelle Vargas is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
BookKeeper added Estelle Vargas

 Laetitia et tormentis, love poems / Incanto / Cuore / Oito

44
47 76
Robert Penn Warren is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added True Love, Tell Me a Story, Evening Hawk

45
92 80
Margaret Atwood is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
You Fit Into Me, A Sad Child, Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing

46
109 107
Ted Hughes is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Lovesong, The Thought-Fox, Full Moon and Little Frieda

47
66 76
Bertolt Brecht is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
JimVeltman added From a German War Primer, Alabama Song, How Fortunate the Man with None

48
50 59
Joseph Brodsky is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
alastairharris11 added I Sit by the Window, Odysseus to Telemachus, A Song

49
60 75
W. S. Merwin is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
For the Anniversary of My Death, Air, December Night

50
185 155
Maya Angelou is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Still I Rise, Phenomenal Woman, Caged Bird