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
453 171
William Butler Yeats is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
paulodonoghue361 added William Butler Yeats When You Are Old, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, Never Give All The Heart

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2
476 222
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
T. S. Eliot The Wasteland, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Hollow Men

3
359 185
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Robert Frost The Road Not Taken, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Mending Wall

4
161 124
William Carlos Williams is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
William Carlos Williams The Red Wheelbarrow, This Is Just to Say, A Song of a Song

5
225 129
Dylan Thomas is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
JimVeltman added Dylan Thomas Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, And Death Shall Have No Dominion, Fern Hill

6
261 130
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Emily Dickinson September's Baccalaureate, Silence Is All We Need, The Savior Must Have Been A Docile Gentleman

7
272 114
Ranier Maria Rilke is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Ranier Maria Rilke At The Brink Of Night, Behind the Blameless Trees, Falconry

8
208 99
Fernando Pessoa is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
BibekSen added Fernando Pessoa Livro Do Desassossego

9
174 100
W. H. Auden is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added W. H. Auden Funeral Blues, Cocaine Lil and Morphine Sue, A Walk After Dark

10
319 179
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar, Ariel, The Collected Poems

11
195 106
Wallace Stevens is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wallace Stevens The Emperor of Ice-Cream, Sunday Morning, Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock

12
258 105
Pablo Neruda is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Pablo Neruda I Do Not Love You, If You Forget Me, Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines

13
165 97
Seamus Heaney is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
paulodonoghue361 added Seamus Heaney Blackberry-Picking, Mid-Term Break, Death of a Naturalist

14
169 100
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Ezra Pound A Girl, In a Station of the Metro, And the Days Are Not Full Enough

15
128 57
Federico García Lorca is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
MitrovicMarko added Federico García Lorca The Open Balcony, Viaje a la luna, Blind Grace

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16
224 135
E. E. Cummings is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
e.e. cummings i carry your heart with me, may i feel said he, maggie and milly and molly and may

17
113 73
Elizabeth Bishop is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
ryanmcw added Elizabeth Bishop One Art, I Am in Need of Music, The Fish

18
193 177
Allen Ginsberg is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Allen Ginsberg Howl, Father Death Blues, A Supermarket in California

19
87 24
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
العابر بنعال من ريح added Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself, Words of Ages

20
152 113
Langston Hughes is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Langston Hughes Dreams, As I Grew Older, Mother to Son

21
213 167
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
clash1977 added Charles Bukowski A Smile to Remember, On the Fire Suicides of the Buddhists, So You Want to Be a Writer

22
103 70
Philip Larkin is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Philip Larkin Aubade, The Spirit Wood, Since the Majority of Me

23
57 43
Hart Crane is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Hart Crane Exile, Chaplinesque, Forgetfulness

24
70 57
Robert Lowell is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Robert Lowell The Old Flame, Skunk Hour, Children of Light

25
49 38
Paul Valéry is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Paul Valéry The Graveyard by the Sea, The Steps, Les Pas

26
81 56
Czesław Miłosz is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Czesław Miłosz Incantation, Ars Poetica?, I Sleep a Lot

27
47 37
Guillaume Apollinaire is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Guillaume Apollinaire L'hérésiarque et Cie, Les Onze Mille Verges ou les Amours d'un hospodar, Alcools

28
105 50
Constantine P. Cavafy is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
ΔημήτρηςΠιλλάς added Constantine P. Cavafy Ithaca, As Much As You Can, Body Remember

29
58 38
Marianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Marianne Moore A Grave, He Made This Screen, Silence

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30
72 25
Arthur Rimbaud is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
العابر بنعال من ريح added Arthur Rimbaud A Season in Hell, Illuminations, Collected poems

31
95 60
D. H. Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
D. H. Lawrence A Winter's Tale, Self-Pity, Beautiful Old Age

32
50 33
Giuseppe Ungaretti is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Mollevangsvagen added Giuseppe Ungaretti Il taccuino del vecchio, 1952-1960, Sentimiento del Tiempo - La Tierra Prometida

33
95 62
Anna Akhmatova is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Anna Akhmatova Everything, I Taught Myself to Live Simply, You Will Hear Thunder

34
63 46
Marina Tsvetaeva is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
annaroza added Marina Tsvetaeva Much Like Me, Lady with Camelias, Whence Cometh Such Tender Rapture?

35
61 46
Theodore Roethke is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Theodore Roethke My Papa's Waltz, I Knew a Woman, Elegy for Jane

36
64 36
Thomas Hardy is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Thomas Hardy I Said to Love, I Need Not Go, A Broken Appointment

37
85 56
Wilfred Owen is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wilfred Owen Dulce Et Decorum Est, 1914, Anthem for Doomed Youth

38
41 32
Gottfried Benn is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Mollevangsvagen added Gottfried Benn Nach dem Nihilismus, The voice behind the screen, Primäre Tage

39
92 70
Ted Hughes is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Ted Hughes Lovesong, The Thought-Fox, Full Moon and Little Frieda

40
72 51
Wislawa Symborska is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wislawa Symborska

41
50 43
Vladimir Mayakovsky is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
MitrovicMarko added Vladimir Mayakovsky Mystery-Bouffe, Night & Morning, The bedbug

42
42 50
Robert Penn Warren is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Robert Penn Warren True Love, Tell Me a Story, Evening Hawk

43
38 32
Joseph Brodsky is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
alastairharris11 added Joseph Brodsky I Sit by the Window, Odysseus to Telemachus, A Song

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44
36 22
Tomas Tranströmer is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
stubb added Tomas Tranströmer Fängelse, The Sorrow Gondola, Baltics

45
74 45
Edna St. Vincent Millay is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Edna St. Vincent Millay Fatal interview, The murder of Lidice, The harp-weaver and other poems

46
69 41
George Seferis is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
ΔημήτρηςΠιλλάς added George Seferis The Leaf of the Poplar, In the Sea Caves, The Jasmin

47
23 20
Zbigniew Herbert is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Jordan C. Langer added Zbigniew Herbert Report from the Besieged City & Other Poems, Interrogation of an Angel, Zbigniew Herbert

48
51 54
W. S. Merwin is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
W. S. Merwin For the Anniversary of My Death, Air, December Night

49
52 54
Paul Celan is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Paul Celan Fugue of Death, In Front of a Candle, Psalm

50
29 30
Richard Wilbur is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Richard Wilbur Boy at the Window, A Fable, Love Calls Us to the Things of This World