Poetry

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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26
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 26 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
27
Vladimir Vysotsky is listed (or ranked) 27 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
28
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 28 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
29
John Keats is listed (or ranked) 29 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
30
Virgil is listed (or ranked) 30 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
31
John Milton is listed (or ranked) 31 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
32
William Wordsworth is listed (or ranked) 32 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
33
Charles Baudelaire is listed (or ranked) 33 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
34
Novalis is listed (or ranked) 34 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.
35
Luís de Camões is listed (or ranked) 35 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
36
Horace is listed (or ranked) 36 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
37
Samuel Taylor Coleridge is listed (or ranked) 37 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
38
Friedrich Hölderlin is listed (or ranked) 38 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
39
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 39 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
40
W. H. Auden is listed (or ranked) 40 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
41
Geoffrey Chaucer is listed (or ranked) 41 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
42
Alexander Pope is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
looksharp added Ode to Solitude, Eloisa to Abelard, A Dying Christian to His Soul
Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet. He is best known for his satirical verse, as well as for his translation of Homer. Famous for his use of the heroic couplet, he is the ...more
43
Paul Verlaine is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Sagesse, Selected poems, Poems
Paul-Marie Verlaine was a French poet associated with the Symbolist movement. He is considered one of the greatest representatives of the fin de siècle in international and French
44
Mikhail Lermontov is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
A Hero of Our Time, The Song of the Merchant Kalashnikov, Demon
Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov, a Russian Romantic writer, poet and painter, the most important Russian poet after Alexander Pushkin in 1837 and the greatest figure in Russian Romanticism. His ...more
45
Vazha-Pshavela is listed (or ranked) 45 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
46
Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorf... is listed (or ranked) 46 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
47
Annette von Droste-Hülshoff is listed (or ranked) 47 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
48
August Heinrich Hoffmann von F... is listed (or ranked) 48 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
49
Walter Scott is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
looksharp added My Native Land, Lochinvar, The Truth of Women
Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet, FRSE was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet. Scott was the first modern English-language author to have a truly international career in his ...more
50
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 50 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