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
428 156
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

The Greatest Poets of All Time The Scariest Novels of All Time

2
451 204
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
342 175
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
215 120
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
152 116
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
249 124
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
166 94
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
254 112
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
192 97
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
302 173
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
185 102
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
236 104
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
157 94
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
161 99
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
218 131
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 Best Books Written Under Pen Names

16
109 71
Elizabeth Bishop is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
ryanmcw added Elizabeth Bishop One Art, I Am in Need of Music, The Fish

17
109 56
Federico García Lorca is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
MitrovicMarko added Federico García Lorca The Open Balcony, Viaje a la luna, Blind Grace

18
185 169
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
101 65
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
146 109
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
54 39
Hart Crane is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Hart Crane Exile, Chaplinesque, Forgetfulness

22
68 54
Robert Lowell is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Robert Lowell The Old Flame, Skunk Hour, Children of Light

23
198 160
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
72 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
79 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
56 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
92 58
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
95 49
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
40 37
Paul Valéry is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Paul Valéry The Graveyard by the Sea, The Steps, Les Pas

The Greatest Black Female Poets The Best Things About Fall

30
90 61
Anna Akhmatova is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Anna Akhmatova Everything, I Taught Myself to Live Simply, You Will Hear Thunder

31
61 23
Arthur Rimbaud is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
العابر بنعال من ريح added Arthur Rimbaud A Season in Hell, Illuminations, Collected poems

32
60 45
Marina Tsvetaeva is listed (or ranked) 32 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?

33
58 45
Theodore Roethke is listed (or ranked) 33 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

34
44 31
Giuseppe Ungaretti is listed (or ranked) 34 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

35
38 37
Guillaume Apollinaire is listed (or ranked) 35 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

36
57 34
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
79 55
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
40 30
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
68 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
84 67
Ted Hughes is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Ted Hughes Lovesong, The Thought-Fox, Full Moon and Little Frieda

42
45 39
Vladimir Mayakovsky is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
MitrovicMarko added Vladimir Mayakovsky Mystery-Bouffe, Night & Morning, The bedbug

43
36 30
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

The Best English Poets of All Time The Best Relish Brands

44
66 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
70 43
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
20 17
Zbigniew Herbert is listed (or ranked) 46 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

47
63 53
Mary Oliver is listed (or ranked) 47 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

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
49 11
Gwendolyn Brooks is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
countophile added Gwendolyn Brooks In the Mecca; Poems, Annie Allen

50
30 21
Tomas Tranströmer is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
stubb added Tomas Tranströmer Fängelse, The Sorrow Gondola, Baltics