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The Greatest Poets of All Time 

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Updated January 4, 2020 756k votes 22k voters 156.2k views 373 items

List Rules Vote up the all time best poets

Who are the best poets of all time? It includes poets such as Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, William Shakespeare, and Sylvia Plath. Poetry has captivated readers for thousands of years. Regardless of the time period during which they wrote, the great poets on this list have used their talents and ways with language to connect with readers of all ages.

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 school to young students.

Poets and their poetry have the ability to take readers places and into worlds they've never imagined. Poets can often be tortured souls or great thinkers who allow readers a new view on the world which they never would have imagined. These greatest poets provide the kind of emotional connection to the written word that few can.

Vote up the all time best poets on the list below or add the poets you think are the greatest if they aren't already on the list.

list ordered by
1
Omar Khayyám is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
softserve added For some we loved, Come Fill The Cup, The Rubaiyat

Birthplace: Nishapur, Iran

Nationality: Iran

Omar Khayyam (; Persian: عمر خیّام‎ [oˈmæɾ xæjˈjɒːm]; 18 May 1048 – 4 December 1131) was a Persian mathematician, astronomer, and poet. He was born in Nishapur, in northeastern Iran, ...more
2
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Ru... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
housecat added Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi Be With Those Who Help Your Being, Any Soul That Drank the Nectar, A Moment Of Happiness

Birthplace: Vakhsh, Tajikistan

Nationality: Tajikistan

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (Persian: جلال‌الدین محمد رومی‎), also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī (جلال‌الدین محمد بلخى), Mevlânâ/Mawlānā (مولانا, "our master"), ...more
3
Hafez is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added Divan-e-Hafez, Ghazalhā-yi Ḥāfiẓ, Dīvān-i Ḥafiẓ

Birthplace: Shiraz, Iran

Nationality: Iran

Khwāja Shams-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Ḥāfeẓ-e Shīrāzī (Persian: خواجه شمس‌‌الدین محمد حافظ شیرازی‎), known by his pen name Hafez (حافظ Ḥāfeẓ 'the memorizer; the (safe) keeper'; 1315-1390) and as ...more
4
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
RogerRamos added Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Odes et Ballades

Birthplace: Besançon, France

Nationality: France

Victor Marie Hugo (French: [viktɔʁ maʁi yɡo] (listen); 26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement. Hugo is considered to be one of the ...more

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The Best Victor Hugo Quotes #9 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #138 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time

5
Arthur Rimbaud is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added A Season in Hell, Illuminations, Collected poems

Birthplace: Europe, Metropolitan France, France, Charleville-Mézières, Champagne-Ardenne, + more

Nationality: France

Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud (UK: , US: ; French: [aʁtyʁ ʁɛ̃bo] (listen); 20 October 1854 – 10 November 1891) was a French poet known for his influence on modern literature and arts, which ...more

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The Best Arthur Rimbaud Quotes #146 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #1,012 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time

6
Sappho is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
He is more than a hero, Awed by her splendor, Cleis

Birthplace: Southeast Europe, Lesbos, Greece, North Aegean

Nationality: Ancient Greece

Sappho (; Aeolic Greek Ψάπφω Psáppho; c. 630 – c. 570 BC) was an Archaic Greek poet from the island of Lesbos. Sappho is known for her lyric poetry, written to be sung while accompanied ...more

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#134 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #34 of 318 The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models #71 of 247 The Best Female Authors of All Time

7
Virgil is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added The Georgics, Eclogue 1-X

Birthplace: Virgilio, Lombardy, Italy

Nationality: Roman Empire

Publius Vergilius Maro (Classical Latin: [ˈpuː.blɪ.ʊs wɛrˈɡɪ.lɪ.ʊs ˈma.roː]; traditional dates October 15, 70 BC – September 21, 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil () in English, was an ...more

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#86 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #277 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time #126 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

8
Fernando Pessoa is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added mar sem fim, Ecologia e território, rosto e as máscaras

Birthplace: Europe, Lisbon District, Portugal, Southern Europe, Estremadura, + more

Nationality: Portugal

Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa (Portuguese: [fɨɾˈnɐ̃du pɨˈsoɐ]; 13 June 1888 – 30 November 1935), commonly known as Fernando Pessoa, was a Portuguese poet, writer, literary critic, ...more

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#242 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #72 of 256 The Best Gay Authors #408 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

9
Vazha-Pshavela is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Tamari Dzodzuashvili added Host and Guest

Birthplace: Georgia

Vazha-Pshavela (Georgian: ვაჟა-ფშაველა), simply referred to as Vazha (Georgian: ვაჟა) (26 July 1861 – 10 July 1915), is the pen name of the Georgian poet and writer Luka Razikashvili (Georgian: ...more
10
Federico García L... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
bonifaceVIII added The City That Does Not Sleep, Before the Dawn, Ballad of the Moon

Birthplace: Fuente Vaqueros, Spain

Nationality: Spain

Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca (Spanish pronunciation: [feðeˈɾiko ðel saˈɣɾaðo koɾaˈθon de xeˈsuz ɣaɾˈθi.a ˈloɾka]; 5 June 1898 – 19 August ...more

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#159 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #1,009 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #20 of 256 The Best Gay Authors

11
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock

Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri

Nationality: United States of America, United Kingdom, England

Thomas Stearns Eliot (26 September 1888 – 4 January 1965), "one of the twentieth century's major poets", was also an essayist, publisher, playwright, and literary and social critic. ...more

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The Best T. S. Eliot Quotes #53 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #287 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time

12
Aleksandr Pushkin is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Eugene Onegin, The Captain's Daughter, The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda

Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

Nationality: Russian Empire

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (English: ; Russian: Александр Сергеевич Пушкин, tr. Aleksándr Sergéyevich Púshkin, IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr sʲɪrˈɡʲe(j)ɪvʲɪtɕ ˈpuʂkʲɪn] (listen); 6 ...more

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#59 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #126 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time #97 of 307 The Best Novelists of All Time

13
Ovid is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added Metamorphoses, Elegy for Tibullus, Love and War

Birthplace: Sulmona, Italy

Nationality: Roman Republic

Publius Ovidius Naso (Classical Latin: [ˈpu:.blɪ.ʊs ɔˈwɪ.dɪ.ʊs ˈnaː.soː]; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known as Ovid () in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who lived during the reign ...more
14
Charles Baudelaire is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Les Fleurs du mal, 33 Poemas Simbolistas, Poems in prose from Charles Baudelaire

Birthplace: Paris, France

Nationality: France

Charles Pierre Baudelaire (UK: , US: ; French: [ʃaʁl bodlɛʁ] (listen); 9 April 1821 – 31 August 1867) was a French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering ...more

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#107 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #300 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #6 of 90 The Best French Authors

15
John Milton is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
softserve added Paradise Lost, How Soon Hath Time, On His Blindness

Birthplace: Europe, Eurasia, United Kingdom, London, England, + more

Nationality: England

John Milton (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674) was an English poet, polemicist, man of letters, and civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under its Council of State and later under ...more

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The Best John Milton Quotes #54 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #899 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time

16
John Keats is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
A Thing of Beauty (Endymion), Bright Star, When I Have Fears

Birthplace: Moorgate, London, England

Nationality: Kingdom of Great Britain, England

John Keats (; 31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821) was an English Romantic poet. He was one of the main figures of the second generation of Romantic poets, along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe ...more

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The Best John Keats Quotes #76 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #811 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

17
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
looksharp added In a Station of the Metro, The River-Merchant's Wife, And the days are not full enough

Birthplace: Hailey, Idaho

Nationality: Italy, United States of America

Ezra Weston Loomis Pound (30 October 1885 – 1 November 1972) was an expatriate American poet and critic, and a major figure in the early modernist poetry movement. His contribution to poetry ...more

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The Best Ezra Pound Quotes #213 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #1,110 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time

18
Basho is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added Winter Days, A Zen Wave, Oku no Hosomichi

Birthplace: Ueno Mie, Japan

Nationality: Japanese

Matsuo Bashō (松尾 芭蕉, 1644–1694), born 松尾 金作, then Matsuo Chūemon Munefusa (松尾 忠右衛門 宗房), was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. During his lifetime, Bashō was recognized for his ...more
19
Miguel de Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Caballero90 added Don Quijote de la Mancha, Ḍāna Kvigjoṭa, El gallardo español

Birthplace: Alcalá de Henares, Spain

Nationality: Spain

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (; US: ; Spanish: [miˈɣel de θeɾˈβantes saaˈβeðɾa]; 29 September 1547 (assumed) – 22 April 1616 NS) was a Spanish writer who is widely regarded as the greatest ...more

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#6 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #378 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time #12 of 307 The Best Novelists of All Time

20
John Donne is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Dead Be Not Proud, For whom the Bell Tolls, No Man Is an Island

Birthplace: Europe, Eurasia, United Kingdom, London, England, + more

Nationality: England

John Donne ( DUN; 22 January 1572 – 31 March 1631) was an English poet and cleric in the Church of England. He is considered the pre-eminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His works ...more

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#127 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #85 of 256 The Best Gay Authors #9 of 111 The Best English Poets of All Time

21
Jorge Luis Borges is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Néstor Luis González added Labyrinths, Ficciones, The Aleph

Birthplace: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Nationality: Argentina

Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo (; Spanish: [ˈboɾxes] (listen); 24 August 1899 – 14 June 1986) was an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator, and a key figure in ...more

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#88 of 177 The Best Fantasy Authors #42 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #1,221 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time

22
Boris Pasternak is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Boris Pasternak Doctor Zhivago, L'an 1905, Récit

Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

Nationality: Russian Empire, Soviet Union

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (; Russian: Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к, IPA: [bɐˈrʲis lʲɪɐˈnʲidəvʲɪtɕ pəstɨrˈnak]; 10 February [O.S. 29 January] 1890 – 30 May 1960) was a Russian poet, novelist, ...more

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#204 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #1,803 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time #105 of 115 Dying Words: Last Words Spoken By Famous People At Death

23
Antonio Machado is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Caballero90 added Páginas escogidas, Antologia Apocrifa, Border of a dream

Birthplace: Seville, Spain

Nationality: Spain

Antonio Machado, in full Antonio Cipriano José María y Francisco de Santa Ana Machado y Ruiz (26 July 1875 – 22 February 1939), was a Spanish poet and one of the leading figures of ...more
24
Heinrich Heine is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Death and his Brother Sleep, Ich Kann Es Nicht Vergessen, A Palm-tree

Birthplace: Düsseldorf, Germany

Nationality: Germany

Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (German: [ˈhaɪnʁɪç ˈhaɪnə]; 13 December 1797 – 17 February 1856) was a German poet, playwright, journalist, essayist, and literary critic. He is best known ...more

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#329 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #71 of 115 Dying Words: Last Words Spoken By Famous People At Death #359 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

25
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Her Voice, A Vision, Flower of Love

Birthplace: Ireland, Ireland, Europe, Dublin

Nationality: Ireland

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most ...more

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The Best Oscar Wilde Quotes #19 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #98 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive