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
592 286
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
525 202
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
427 236
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
263 164
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
345 154
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
210 119
W. H. Auden is listed (or ranked) 6 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

7
187 156
William Carlos Williams is listed (or ranked) 7 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

8
323 132
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
383 205
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar, Ariel, The Collected Poems

10
247 121
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
226 126
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
307 123
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
202 120
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
162 70
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

The Greatest Poets of All Time

15
188 121
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
253 153
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
124 40
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 17 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

18
128 81
Philip Larkin is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Philip Larkin Aubade, The Spirit Wood, Since the Majority of Me

19
220 200
Allen Ginsberg is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Allen Ginsberg Howl, Father Death Blues, A Supermarket in California

20
129 87
Elizabeth Bishop is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
ryanmcw added Elizabeth Bishop One Art, I Am in Need of Music, The Fish

21
104 32
Arthur Rimbaud is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
العابر بنعال من ريح added Arthur Rimbaud A Season in Hell, Illuminations, Collected poems

The Greatest Graphic Novels and Collected Editions

22
175 132
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
95 56
Marina Tsvetaeva is listed (or ranked) 23 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?

24
244 198
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 24 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

25
60 45
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
127 70
Anna Akhmatova is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Anna Akhmatova Everything, I Taught Myself to Live Simply, You Will Hear Thunder

27
67 53
Hart Crane is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Hart Crane Exile, Chaplinesque, Forgetfulness

28
92 62
Czesław Miłosz is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Czesław Miłosz Incantation, Ars Poetica?, I Sleep a Lot

10 Transgender Poets You Should know

29
76 67
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
123 58
Constantine P. Cavafy is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
ΔημήτρηςΠιλλάς added Constantine P. Cavafy Ithaca, As Much As You Can, Body Remember

31
71 47
Marianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Marianne Moore A Grave, He Made This Screen, Silence

32
54 47
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
105 62
Wislawa Symborska is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Wislawa Symborska

34
60 40
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
72 55
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

The Best Movies Based on Short Stories

36
97 65
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
101 70
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
102 68
Mary Oliver is listed (or ranked) 38 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

39
72 46
Thomas Hardy is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Thomas Hardy I Said to Love, I Need Not Go, A Broken Appointment

40
64 52
Vladimir Mayakovsky is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
MitrovicMarko added Vladimir Mayakovsky Mystery-Bouffe, Night & Morning, The bedbug

41
101 55
Edna St. Vincent Millay is listed (or ranked) 41 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

42
92 27
Estelle Vargas is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
BookKeeper added Estelle Vargas  Laetitia et tormentis, love poems / Incanto / Cuore / Oito

The Best American Poets

43
105 88
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

44
47 62
Robert Penn Warren is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
looksharp added Robert Penn Warren True Love, Tell Me a Story, Evening Hawk

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

46
62 60
Paul Celan is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Paul Celan Fugue of Death, In Front of a Candle, Psalm

47
38 37
Richard Wilbur is listed (or ranked) 47 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

48
43 44
Gottfried Benn is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
Mollevangsvagen added Gottfried Benn Nach dem Nihilismus, The voice behind the screen, Primäre Tage

49
77 48
George Seferis is listed (or ranked) 49 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

50
57 61
W. S. Merwin is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Poets of the 20th Century
W. S. Merwin For the Anniversary of My Death, Air, December Night