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Literature

The Greatest Poets of All Time

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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.

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  • William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850) was an English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with their joint publication ...more
  • Luís Vaz de Camões (Portuguese pronunciation: [luˈiʒ ˈvaʒ dɨ kaˈmõjʃ]; sometimes rendered in English as Camoens or Camoëns, e.g. by Byron in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, ; c. 1524 or 1525 – 20 ...more
  • John Donne
    3
    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 are ...more
  • 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
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge (; 21 October 1772 – 25 July 1834) was an English poet, literary critic, philosopher and theologian who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic ...more
  • Edward Estlin "E. E." Cummings (October 14, 1894 – September 3, 1962), often styled as e e cummings, as he is attributed in many of his published works, was an American poet, painter, essayist, ...more
  • 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, translator, ...more
  • Ezra Pound
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    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
  • 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 (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
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    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
  • Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) is regarded as one of the greatest English poets and the foremost poet the early eighteenth century. He is best known for his satirical and discursive ...more
  • Wallace Stevens (October 2, 1879 – August 2, 1955) was an American modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard and then New York Law School, and he spent most of his ...more
  • Robert Browning (7 May 1812 – 12 December 1889) was an English poet and playwright whose mastery of the dramatic monologue made him one of the foremost Victorian poets. His poems are known for their ...more
  • 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
  • Catullus
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    Gaius Valerius Catullus (; Latin: [kaˈtʊllʊs]; c. 84 – c. 54 BCE) was a Latin poet of the late Roman Republic who wrote chiefly in the neoteric style of poetry, which is about personal life rather ...more
  • Anna Elisabeth Franziska Adolphine Wilhelmine Louise Maria, Freiin von Droste zu Hülshoff, known as Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (German: [aˈnɛtə fɔn ˈdʁɔstəˈhʏlshɔf] (listen); 10 or 12 January 1797 – ...more
  • August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben (listen ; 2 April 1798 – 19 January 1874) was a German poet. He is best known for writing "Das Lied der Deutschen", its third stanza now being the national ...more
  • Johann Gottfried (after 1802, von) Herder (; German: [ˈjoːhan ˈɡɔtfʁiːt ˈhɛɐ̯dɐ]; 25 August 1744 – 18 December 1803) was a German philosopher, theologian, poet, and literary critic. He is associated ...more
  • Gottfried Benn (2 May 1886 – 7 July 1956) was a German poet, essayist, and physician. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature five times.
  • Edmund Spenser (; 1552/1553 – 13 January 1599) was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is ...more
  • Philip Arthur Larkin CH CBE FRSL (9 August 1922 – 2 December 1985) was an English poet, novelist, and librarian. His first book of poetry, The North Ship, was published in 1945, followed by two ...more
  • Hans Sachs
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    Hans Sachs (5 November 1494 – 19 January 1576) was a German Meistersinger ("mastersinger"), poet, playwright, and shoemaker.
  • Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (German: [ˈklɔpʃtɔk]; 2 July 1724 – 14 March 1803) was a German poet. His best known work is the epic poem Der Messias ("The Messiah"). One of his major contributions to ...more
  • Johann Ludwig Tieck (; German: [tiːk]; 31 May 1773 – 28 April 1853) was a German poet, fiction writer, translator, and critic. He was one of the founding fathers of the Romantic movement in the late ...more