Poetry The Best Poets of the 20th Century  

Ranker Books
Originally by
21.4k votes 3.2k voters 151.5k views 203 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.

1
618 297
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

2
545 212
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
444 248
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
275 177
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
359 161
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 5 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

6
194 170
William Carlos Williams is listed (or ranked) 6 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

7
221 128
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
403 211
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar, Ariel, The Collected Poems

9
336 141
Ranier Maria Rilke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Ranier Maria Rilke At The Brink Of Night, Behind the Blameless Trees, Falconry

10
259 128
Fernando Pessoa is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
BibekSen added Fernando Pessoa Livro Do Desassossego

11
334 127
Pablo Neruda is listed (or ranked) 11 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

12
234 136
Wallace Stevens is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wallace Stevens The Emperor of Ice-Cream, Sunday Morning, Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock

13
211 125
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 13 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

14
173 74
Federico García Lorca is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
MitrovicMarko added Federico García Lorca The Open Balcony, Viaje a la luna, Blind Grace

15
197 131
Seamus Heaney is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
paulodonoghue361 added Seamus Heaney Blackberry-Picking, Mid-Term Break, Death of a Naturalist

16
264 156
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
227 205
Allen Ginsberg is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Allen Ginsberg Howl, Father Death Blues, A Supermarket in California

18
137 43
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 18 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

19
137 92
Elizabeth Bishop is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
ryanmcw added Elizabeth Bishop One Art, I Am in Need of Music, The Fish

20
134 89
Philip Larkin is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Philip Larkin Aubade, The Spirit Wood, Since the Majority of Me

21
108 57
Marina Tsvetaeva is listed (or ranked) 21 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?

22
138 71
Anna Akhmatova is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Anna Akhmatova Everything, I Taught Myself to Live Simply, You Will Hear Thunder

23
182 139
Langston Hughes is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Langston Hughes Dreams, As I Grew Older, Mother to Son

24
115 35
Arthur Rimbaud is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
العابر بنعال من ريح added Arthur Rimbaud A Season in Hell, Illuminations, Collected poems

25
63 47
Guillaume Apollinaire is listed (or ranked) 25 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

26
248 207
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 26 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

27
95 65
Czesław Miłosz is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Czesław Miłosz Incantation, Ars Poetica?, I Sleep a Lot

28
70 60
Hart Crane is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Hart Crane Exile, Chaplinesque, Forgetfulness

29
79 72
Robert Lowell is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Robert Lowell The Old Flame, Skunk Hour, Children of Light

30
58 50
Paul Valéry is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Paul Valéry The Graveyard by the Sea, The Steps, Les Pas

31
115 64
Wislawa Symborska is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wislawa Symborska

32
132 61
Constantine P. Cavafy is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
ΔημήτρηςΠιλλάς added Constantine P. Cavafy Ithaca, As Much As You Can, Body Remember

33
75 54
Marianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Marianne Moore A Grave, He Made This Screen, Silence

34
61 43
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
75 60
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
109 69
Mary Oliver is listed (or ranked) 36 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

37
104 74
D. H. Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
D. H. Lawrence A Winter's Tale, Self-Pity, Beautiful Old Age

38
100 70
Wilfred Owen is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wilfred Owen Dulce Et Decorum Est, 1914, Anthem for Doomed Youth

39
69 57
Vladimir Mayakovsky is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
MitrovicMarko added Vladimir Mayakovsky Mystery-Bouffe, Night & Morning, The bedbug

40
106 57
Edna St. Vincent Millay is listed (or ranked) 40 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

41
74 52
Thomas Hardy is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Thomas Hardy I Said to Love, I Need Not Go, A Broken Appointment

42
65 63
Paul Celan is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Paul Celan Fugue of Death, In Front of a Candle, Psalm

43
47 67
Robert Penn Warren is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Robert Penn Warren True Love, Tell Me a Story, Evening Hawk

44
108 97
Ted Hughes is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Ted Hughes Lovesong, The Thought-Fox, Full Moon and Little Frieda

45
99 30
Estelle Vargas is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
BookKeeper added Estelle Vargas  Laetitia et tormentis, love poems / Incanto / Cuore / Oito

46
48 50
Joseph Brodsky is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
alastairharris11 added Joseph Brodsky I Sit by the Window, Odysseus to Telemachus, A Song

47
82 51
George Seferis is listed (or ranked) 47 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

48
59 66
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
66 71
Bertolt Brecht is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
JimVeltman added Bertolt Brecht From a German War Primer, Alabama Song, How Fortunate the Man with None

50
44 50
Gottfried Benn is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Mollevangsvagen added Gottfried Benn Nach dem Nihilismus, The voice behind the screen, Primäre Tage