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The Greatest Poets of All Time

Over 24.6K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Greatest Poets of All Time
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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.

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  • Friedrich Hölderlin
    Hyperion's Song Of Destiny, Bread and Wine, Half of Life
    660 votes
    • Birthplace: Lauffen am Neckar, Germany
    Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin (UK: , US: ; German: [ˈjoːhan ˈkʁɪsti̯aːn ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈhœldɐliːn]; 20 March 1770 – 7 June 1843) was a German poet and philosopher. Described by Norbert von ...more
  • Ezra Pound
    In a Station of the Metro, The River-Merchant's Wife, And the days are not full enough
    581 votes
    • Birthplace: Hailey, Idaho
    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 began ...more
  • W. H. Auden
    Funeral Blues, If I Could Tell You, Cocaine Lil and Morphine Sue
    675 votes
    • Birthplace: York, United Kingdom
    Wystan Hugh Auden (; 21 February 1907 – 29 September 1973) was an English-American poet. Auden's poetry was noted for its stylistic and technical achievement, its engagement with politics, morals, ...more
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Give All To Love, Fate, The Bell
    499 votes
    • Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion ...more
  • Pindar
    Isthmian Odes of Pindar, The works of Pindar, Pindar's IV. Pythische Ode
    511 votes
    • Birthplace: Boeotia, Greece
    Pindar (; Greek: Πίνδαρος Pindaros, pronounced [píndaros]; Latin: Pindarus; c. 518 – 438 BC) was an Ancient Greek lyric poet from Thebes. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work ...more
  • Giacomo Leopardi
    Pensieri, Detti memorabili di Filippo Ottonieri, Scritti e frammenti autobiografici
    415 votes
    • Birthplace: Recanati, Italy
    Giacomo Taldegardo Francesco di Sales Saverio Pietro Leopardi (US: , Italian: [ˈdʒaːkomo leoˈpardi]; 29 June 1798 – 14 June 1837) was an Italian philosopher, poet, essayist, and philologist. He is ...more