The Best Poets of the 20th Century

Over 6.5K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Voting 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.

Most divisive: Carl Sandburg
Ranked by
  • William Butler Yeats
    1,361 votes
    When You Are Old, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, Never Give All The Heart
  • T. S. Eliot
    1,704 votes
    The Wasteland, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Hollow Men
  • Pablo Neruda
    1,051 votes
    I Do Not Love You, If You Forget Me, Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines
  • Ranier Maria Rilke
    970 votes

    Ranier Maria Rilke

    At The Brink Of Night, Behind the Blameless Trees, Falconry
  • Fernando Pessoa
    819 votes
    Livro Do Desassossego
  • Constantine P. Cavafy
    422 votes
    Ithaca, As Much As You Can, Body Remember