Poetry

The Best Poets of the 20th Century 

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Updated September 10, 2019 30.9k votes 4.4k voters 183.3k views 214 items

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
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
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
The Road Not Taken, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Mending Wall
3
Pablo Neruda is listed (or ranked) 3 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
4
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
The Bell Jar, Ariel, The Collected Poems
5
Ranier Maria Rilke is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Ranier Maria Rilke At The Brink Of Night, Behind the Blameless Trees, Falconry
6
Dylan Thomas is listed (or ranked) 6 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
7
Fernando Pessoa is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
BibekSen added Livro Do Desassossego
8
Wallace Stevens is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
The Emperor of Ice-Cream, Sunday Morning, Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock
9
W. H. Auden is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Funeral Blues, Cocaine Lil and Morphine Sue, A Walk After Dark
10
William Butler Yeats is listed (or ranked) 10 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
11
E. E. Cummings is listed (or ranked) 11 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
12
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 12 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
13
Seamus Heaney is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
paulodonoghue361 added Blackberry-Picking, Mid-Term Break, Death of a Naturalist
14
Federico García L... 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
Elizabeth Bishop is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
ryanmcw added One Art, I Am in Need of Music, The Fish
16
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 16 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
17
Anna Akhmatova is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Everything, I Taught Myself to Live Simply, You Will Hear Thunder
18
William Carlos Williams ... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
The Red Wheelbarrow, This Is Just to Say, A Song of a Song
19
Langston Hughes is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Dreams, As I Grew Older, Mother to Son
20
Allen Ginsberg is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Howl, Father Death Blues, A Supermarket in California
21
Philip Larkin is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Aubade, The Spirit Wood, Since the Majority of Me
22
Mary Oliver is listed (or ranked) 22 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
23
Wislawa Symborska is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wislawa Symborska
24
Constantine P. Cavafy is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
ΔημήτρηςΠιλλάς added Ithaca, As Much As You Can, Body Remember
25
Czesław Miłosz is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Incantation, Ars Poetica?, I Sleep a Lot