poets 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
442 192
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 1 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

The Greatest Poets of All Time The Greatest Love Poems Ever Written

2
411 152
William Butler Yeats is listed (or ranked) 2 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

3
329 169
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
209 110
Dylan Thomas is listed (or ranked) 4 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

5
149 110
William Carlos Williams is listed (or ranked) 5 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

6
237 120
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
157 91
W. H. Auden is listed (or ranked) 7 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

8
247 109
Ranier Maria Rilke is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Ranier Maria Rilke At The Brink Of Night, Behind the Blameless Trees, Falconry

9
186 94
Fernando Pessoa is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
BibekSen added Fernando Pessoa Livro Do Desassossego

10
291 170
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
181 100
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
152 90
Seamus Heaney is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
paulodonoghue361 added Seamus Heaney Blackberry-Picking, Mid-Term Break, Death of a Naturalist

13
230 102
Pablo Neruda is listed (or ranked) 13 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

14
157 95
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
211 129
E. E. Cummings is listed (or ranked) 15 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

The 10 Most Tortured Beat Generation Poets The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

16
184 164
Allen Ginsberg is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Allen Ginsberg Howl, Father Death Blues, A Supermarket in California

17
106 70
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
103 54
Federico García Lorca is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
MitrovicMarko added Federico García Lorca The Open Balcony, Viaje a la luna, Blind Grace

19
96 62
Philip Larkin is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Philip Larkin Aubade, The Spirit Wood, Since the Majority of Me

20
53 37
Hart Crane is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Hart Crane Exile, Chaplinesque, Forgetfulness

21
196 155
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
141 108
Langston Hughes is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Langston Hughes Dreams, As I Grew Older, Mother to Son

23
66 54
Robert Lowell is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Robert Lowell The Old Flame, Skunk Hour, Children of Light

24
68 21
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 24 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

25
77 54
Czesław Miłosz is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Czesław Miłosz Incantation, Ars Poetica?, I Sleep a Lot

26
55 36
Marianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Marianne Moore A Grave, He Made This Screen, Silence

27
89 57
D. H. Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
D. H. Lawrence A Winter's Tale, Self-Pity, Beautiful Old Age

28
59 20
Arthur Rimbaud is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
العابر بنعال من ريح added Arthur Rimbaud A Season in Hell, Illuminations, Collected poems

29
60 44
Marina Tsvetaeva is listed (or ranked) 29 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?

The Greatest Black Female Poets Things You Should Know How to Do Before You Turn 30

30
44 30
Giuseppe Ungaretti is listed (or ranked) 30 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

31
90 47
Constantine P. Cavafy is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
ΔημήτρηςΠιλλάς added Constantine P. Cavafy Ithaca, As Much As You Can, Body Remember

32
39 37
Paul Valéry is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Paul Valéry The Graveyard by the Sea, The Steps, Les Pas

33
37 36
Guillaume Apollinaire is listed (or ranked) 33 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

34
88 61
Anna Akhmatova is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Anna Akhmatova Everything, I Taught Myself to Live Simply, You Will Hear Thunder

35
56 45
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
79 54
Wilfred Owen is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wilfred Owen Dulce Et Decorum Est, 1914, Anthem for Doomed Youth

37
39 29
Gottfried Benn is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Mollevangsvagen added Gottfried Benn Nach dem Nihilismus, The voice behind the screen, Primäre Tage

38
54 34
Thomas Hardy is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Thomas Hardy I Said to Love, I Need Not Go, A Broken Appointment

39
67 47
Wislawa Symborska is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wislawa Symborska

40
41 47
Robert Penn Warren is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Robert Penn Warren True Love, Tell Me a Story, Evening Hawk

41
45 38
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
36 30
Joseph Brodsky is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
alastairharris11 added Joseph Brodsky I Sit by the Window, Odysseus to Telemachus, A Song

43
80 66
Ted Hughes is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Ted Hughes Lovesong, The Thought-Fox, Full Moon and Little Frieda

The Best English Poets of All Time The Best and Worst Disney Animated Movies

44
65 39
George Seferis is listed (or ranked) 44 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

45
20 16
Zbigniew Herbert is listed (or ranked) 45 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

46
66 43
Edna St. Vincent Millay is listed (or ranked) 46 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

47
30 20
Tomas Tranströmer is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
stubb added Tomas Tranströmer Fängelse, The Sorrow Gondola, Baltics

48
48 52
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
40 31
Gary Snyder is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Gary Snyder Hay for the Horses, For Lew Welch in a Snowfall, December at Yae

50
61 53
Mary Oliver is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Mary Oliver Long Life: Essays And Other Writings, Why I Wake Early: New Poems, White Pine: Poems and Prose Poems