Poetry The Greatest Poets of All Time  

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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
3,287 951
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?, My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's ...more

2
3,105 873
Homer is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
housecat added The Iliad, The Odyssey Homerus, best known as his anglicised name Homer, is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. He was believed by the ancient Greeks to have been the first and greatest of the epic poets. Author ...more

3
3,095 866
Dante Alighieri is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
The Divine Comedy, Love and the Gentle Heart, Sestina Durante degli Alighieri, simply called Dante, was a major Italian poet of the late Middle Ages. His Divine Comedy, originally called Comedìa and later called Divina by Boccaccio, is ...more

4
3,090 882
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
The Raven, A Dream Within a Dream, Annabel Lee Edgar Allan Poe was an American author, poet, editor, and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of ...more

5
3,001 814
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
schuechen added Der Erlkönig, Herbstgefühle, Prometheus Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer and statesman. His body of work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of metres and styles; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an ...more

6
2,956 805
William Butler Yeats is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
When You Are Old, He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven, A Crazed Girl William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as ...more

7
2,925 790
William Blake is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
The Tiger, A Poison Tree, Auguries of Innocence William Blake was an English painter, poet and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the ...more

8
2,978 801
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
O Captain! My Captain!, A Clear Midnight, A child said What is the grass? Walter "Walt" Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his ...more

9
2,847 677
Rudyard Kipling is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Mandalay, If, A Child's Garden Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He wrote tales and poems of British soldiers in India and stories for children. He was born in Bombay, in the Bombay ...more

10
2,897 682
Rabindranath Tagore is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Kony, The Home and the World, Chokher Bali Rabindranath Tagore, also written Rabīndranātha Thākura, sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali polymath who reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in ...more

11
2,937 730
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Hope is the thing with feathers, Faith is a fine invention, Heaven--is what I cannot reach! Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was an American poet. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a successful family with strong community ties, she lived a mostly introverted and reclusive life. After she ...more

12
2,842 717
Rainer Maria Rilke is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added A Walk, The Panther, Again and Again René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke —better known as Rainer Maria Rilke —was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist, "widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense ...more

13
2,731 702
Henrik Ibsen is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
schuechen added In the Picture Gallery, Mountain Life, Thanks Henrik Johan Ibsen was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as "the father of realism" and is one of the founders of Modernism ...more

14
2,977 652
Aleksandr Pushkin is listed (or ranked) 14 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 Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin was a Russian author of the Romantic era who is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. Pushkin was born ...more

15
2,919 693
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
The Road Not Taken, Fire and Ice, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Robert Lee Frost was an American poet. His work was initially published in England before it was published in America. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his ...more

16
2,836 668
Friedrich Schiller is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Friendship, Human Knowledge, Amalia Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright. During the last seventeen years of his life, Schiller struck up a productive, if complicated, ...more

17
2,920 697
Pablo Neruda is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
If You Forget Me, I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You, Don't Go Far Off Pablo Neruda was the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean poet-diplomat and politician Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He derived his pen name from the Czech poet Jan Neruda. He won ...more

18
2,920 679
George Gordon Byron is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
She Walks In Beauty, There Is Pleasure In The Pathless Woods, When We Two Parted George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, FRS, commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was an English poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement. ...more

19
2,740 609
Robert Burns is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Auld Lang Syne, A Red Red Rose, My Heart's In the Highlands Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots ...more

20
2,767 664
Giovanni Boccaccio is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Proem, Balleta, Sonetto Giovanni Boccaccio was an Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch, and an important Renaissance humanist. Boccaccio wrote a number of notable works, including The Decameron and On Famous ...more

21
2,762 650
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Ten... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Ulysses, All Things Will Die, Charge Of The Light Brigade Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS was Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular British poets. Tennyson excelled ...more

22
2,904 637
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Her Voice, A Vision, Flower of Love Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish author, playwright and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the ...more

23
2,756 595
Petrarch is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added Petrarch, From 'Visions' Francesco Petrarca, commonly anglicized as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar and poet in Renaissance Italy, and one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch's rediscovery of Cicero's letters is often ...more

24
2,744 658
Geoffrey Chaucer is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added The Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer, known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to be buried in Poets' Corner of Westminster ...more

25
2,915 641
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock Thomas Stearns Eliot OM, usually known as T. S. Eliot, was an essayist, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic, and "one of the twentieth century's major poets". He was born ...more

26
2,870 629
John Keats is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
A Thing of Beauty (Endymion), Bright Star, When I Have Fears John Keats 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 Shelley, despite his work having been in ...more

27
2,813 604
Virgil is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added The Georgics, Eclogue 1-X Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English, was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues, the ...more

28
2,669 612
Novalis is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Hymns to the Night Novalis was the pseudonym of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, a poet, author, and philosopher of early German Romanticism.

29
2,818 622
William Wordsworth is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
I wandered lonely as a cloud, The world is too much with us, Daffodils William Wordsworth was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with their joint publication Lyrical Ballads. ...more

30
2,823 629
Charles Baudelaire is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Les Fleurs du mal, 33 Poemas Simbolistas, Poems in prose from Charles Baudelaire Charles Pierre Baudelaire was a French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. His most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal, ...more

31
2,776 626
Friedrich Hölderlin is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Hyperion's Song Of Destiny, Bread and Wine, Half of Life Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin was a major German lyric poet, commonly associated with the artistic movement known as Romanticism. Hölderlin was also an important thinker in the ...more

32
2,704 588
Luís de Camões is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added The Lusiads of Camoens, A ilha dos amores, he Canzonen des Luis de Camoens Luís Vaz de Camões, is considered Portugal's and the Portuguese language's greatest poet. His mastery of verse has been compared to that of Shakespeare, Vondel, Homer, Virgil and ...more

33
2,685 576
Horace is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
softserve added Satiren / Briefe. Sermones / Epistulae, Horace Odes III Dulce Periculum, Oden und Epoden Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus. The rhetorician Quintillian regarded his Odes as just about ...more

34
2,571 557
Pindar is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
bonifaceVIII added Isthmian Odes of Pindar, The works of Pindar, Pindar's IV. Pythische Ode Pindar, was an Ancient Greek lyric poet from Thebes. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian wrote, "Of the nine lyric poets, Pindar ...more

35
2,734 616
Dylan Thomas is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
bonifaceVIII added Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night, Before I Knocked, Under Milk Wood Dylan Marlais Thomas was a Welsh poet and writer whose works include the poems "Do not go gentle into that good night" and "And death shall have no dominion", the "Play ...more

36
2,777 610
Percy Bysshe Shelley is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
softserve added Ozymandias, A Lament, Love's Philosophy Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets, and is regarded by some critics as amongst the finest lyric poets in the English language. A radical in his poetry as well as ...more

37
2,425 354
Vazha-Pshavela is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Tamari Dzodzuashvili added Host and Guest Vazha-Pshavela, simply referred to as Vazha is the pen name of the Georgian poet and writer Luka Razikashvili, noted Georgian patriot and author of the highest calibre in the field of Georgian ...more

38
2,675 594
W. H. Auden is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Funeral Blues, If I Could Tell You, Cocaine Lil and Morphine Sue Wystan Hugh Auden was an Anglo-American poet, born in England, an American citizen, and regarded by many critics as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. His work is noted for its ...more

39
2,449 558
Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorf... is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Novellen und Gedichte, Ahnung und Gegenwart. Ein Roman, Scènes de la vie d'un propre à rien Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff was a German poet and novelist of the later German romantic school. Eichendorff is regarded as one of the most important German Romantics and his works have ...more

40
2,629 590
August Heinrich Hoffmann von F... is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben, who used Hoffmann von Fallersleben as his pen name, was a German poet. He is best known for writing "Das Lied der Deutschen", its third ...more

41
2,594 586
Annette von Droste-Hülshoff is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Die Judenbuche, Das geistliche Jahr, Last Gifts Anna Elisabeth Franziska Adolphine Wilhelmine Louise Maria, Freiin von Droste zu Hülshoff, known as Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, was a 19th-century German writer and composer. She was ...more

42
2,828 640
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
clash1977 added A Smile to Remember, Alone with Everybody, Are You Drinking? Henry Charles Bukowski was a German-born American poet, novelist, and short story writer. His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and beautiful economic ambience of his home city of ...more

43
2,461 526
Vladimir Vysotsky is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Songs and poems of Vladimir Vysotsky, Vacation in Vienna, I Love Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotsky was a Russian singer-songwriter, poet, and actor whose career had an immense and enduring effect on Soviet and Russian culture. He became widely known for his ...more

44
2,793 597
John Milton is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
softserve added Paradise Lost, How Soon Hath Time, On His Blindness John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political ...more

45
2,933 613
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
housecat added Be With Those Who Help Your Being, Any Soul That Drank the Nectar, A Moment Of Happiness Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, Mawlānā, Mevlânâ, Mevlevî, and more popularly simply as Rūmī, was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, ...more

46
2,680 591
E. E. Cummings is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
i carry your heart with me, may i feel said he, i like my body when it is with your Edward Estlin Cummings, known as E. E. Cummings, with the abbreviated form of his name often written by others in lowercase letters as e e cummings, was an American poet, painter, essayist, ...more

47
2,707 581
Samuel Taylor Coleridge is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
looksharp added The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan, The Suicide's Argument Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake ...more

48
2,524 553
Hans Sachs is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added The Mediator, Die insel Bachi, Why Art Thou Thus Cast Down My Heart? Hans Sachs was a German meistersinger, poet, playwright, and shoemaker.

49
2,752 589
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Cinderella, Ariel, Mirror Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, she studied at Smith College and Newnham College at the University of Cambridge, before ...more

50
2,457 541
Ulrich von Liechtenstein is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Ulrich von Liechtenstein was a minnesinger and poet of the Middle Ages. He wrote poetry in Middle High German and was author of noted works about how knights and nobles may lead more virtuous ...more