Poetry The Greatest Poets of All Time  

Ranker Books
Originally by
746.7k votes 16.6k voters 78k views 295 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.

1
3,171 873
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
William Shakespeare Died at 52 (1564-1616)

2
3,027 813
Homer is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
housecat added Homer

3
3,010 815
Dante Alighieri is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Dante Alighieri Died at 56 (1265-1321)

4
3,004 815
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Edgar Allan Poe Died at 40 (1809-1849)

5
2,961 777
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
schuechen added Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Died at 83 (1749-1832)

6
3,475 364
Shota Rustaveli is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
George98 added Shota Rustaveli Died at 44 (1172-1216)

7
2,890 754
William Blake is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
William Blake Died at 70 (1757-1827)

8
2,907 766
William Butler Yeats is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
William Butler Yeats Died at 74 (1865-1939)

9
2,929 767
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Walt Whitman Died at 73 (1819-1892)

10
2,893 700
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Emily Dickinson Died at 56 (1830-1886)

11
2,816 681
Rainer Maria Rilke is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added Rainer Maria Rilke Died at 51 (1875-1926)

12
2,721 664
Henrik Ibsen is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
schuechen added Henrik Ibsen Died at 78 (1828-1906)

13
3,868 660
Ana Kalandadze is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Tamari Dzodzuashvili added Ana Kalandadze Died at 84 (1924-2008)

14
2,870 669
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Robert Frost Died at 89 (1874-1963)

Famous Schizophrenics

15
2,878 667
Pablo Neruda is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Pablo Neruda Died at 69 (1904-1973)

16
2,810 647
Rudyard Kipling is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Rudyard Kipling Died at 71 (1865-1936)

17
2,839 655
Rabindranath Tagore is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Rabindranath Tagore Died at 80 (1861-1941)

18
2,894 656
George Gordon Byron is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
George Gordon Byron Died at 36 (1788-1824)

19
2,755 640
Giovanni Boccaccio is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Giovanni Boccaccio Died at 62 (1313-1375)

20
2,928 634
Aleksandr Pushkin is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Aleksandr Pushkin Died at 38 (1799-1837)

21
2,822 649
Friedrich Schiller is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Friedrich Schiller Died at 46 (1759-1805)

The 10 Most Tortured Beat Generation Poets

22
2,744 633
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Ten... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time

23
2,709 593
Robert Burns is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Robert Burns Died at 37 (1759-1796)

24
2,727 640
Geoffrey Chaucer is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added Geoffrey Chaucer Died at 57 (1343-1400)

25
2,342 335
Vazha-Pshavela is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Tamari Dzodzuashvili added Vazha-Pshavela Died at 54 (1861-1915)

26
2,873 625
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added T. S. Eliot Died at 77 (1888-1965)

27
2,828 615
John Keats is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
John Keats Died at 26 (1795-1821)

28
2,787 607
William Wordsworth is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
William Wordsworth Died at 80 (1770-1850)

Famous Poets Who Committed Suicide

29
2,661 599
Novalis is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Novalis Died at 29 (1772-1801)

30
2,806 612
Charles Baudelaire is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Charles Baudelaire Died at 46 (1821-1867)

31
2,766 613
Friedrich Hölderlin is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Friedrich Hölderlin Died at 73 (1770-1843)

32
2,717 597
Dylan Thomas is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
bonifaceVIII added Dylan Thomas Died at 39 (1914-1953)

33
2,750 599
Percy Bysshe Shelley is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
softserve added Percy Bysshe Shelley Died at 30 (1792-1822)

34
2,885 621
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Oscar Wilde Died at 46 (1854-1900)

35
2,740 584
Petrarch is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added Petrarch Died at 70 (1304-1374)

The Best Novelists of All Time

36
2,662 582
W. H. Auden is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
W. H. Auden Died at 66 (1907-1973)

37
2,809 619
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
clash1977 added Charles Bukowski Died at 74 (1920-1994)

38
2,627 578
August Heinrich Hoffmann von F... is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben Died at 76 (1798-1874)

39
2,591 572
Annette von Droste-Hülshoff is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Annette von Droste-Hülshoff Died at 51 (1797-1848)

40
2,447 545
Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorf... is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff Died at 69 (1788-1857)

41
2,789 592
Virgil is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added Virgil Died at 51 (69 BC-18 BC)

42
2,763 588
John Milton is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
softserve added John Milton Died at 66 (1608-1674)

The Most Controversial Writers of All Time

43
2,685 578
Luís de Camões is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Luís de Camões Died at 56 (1524-1580)

44
2,664 576
E. E. Cummings is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
e e cummings Died at 68 (1894-1962)

45
2,672 565
Horace is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
softserve added Horace Died at 57 (64 BC-7 BC)

46
2,840 600
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
housecat added Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi Died at 66 (1207-1273)

47
2,691 571
Samuel Taylor Coleridge is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
looksharp added Samuel Taylor Coleridge Died at 62 (1772-1834)

48
2,563 544
Pindar is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
bonifaceVIII added Pindar Died at 79 (521 BC-442 BC)

49
2,731 577
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Sylvia Plath Died at 31 (1932-1963)

50
2,521 541
Hans Sachs is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Hans Sachs Died at 82 (1494-1576)