Poetry

The Greatest Poets of All Time 

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Updated January 4, 2020 754.3k votes 21.7k voters 148.4k views 373 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.

list ordered by
1
Omar Khayyám is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
softserve added For some we loved, Come Fill The Cup, The Rubaiyat

Birthplace: Nishapur, Iran

Nationality: Iran

Omar Khayyam (; Persian: عمر خیّام‎ [oˈmæɾ xæjˈjɒːm]; 18 May 1048 – 4 December 1131) was a Persian mathematician, astronomer, and poet. He was born in Nishapur, in northeastern Iran, ...more

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#366 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #306 of 1,269 Every Person Who Has Been Immortalized in a Google Doodle

2
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Ru... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
housecat added Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi Be With Those Who Help Your Being, Any Soul That Drank the Nectar, A Moment Of Happiness

Birthplace: Vakhsh, Tajikistan

Nationality: Tajikistan

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (Persian: جلال‌الدین محمد رومی‎), also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī (جلال‌الدین محمد بلخى), Mevlânâ/Mawlānā (مولانا, "our master"), ...more
3
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
RogerRamos added Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Odes et Ballades

Birthplace: Besançon, France

Nationality: France

Victor Marie Hugo (French: [viktɔʁ maʁi yɡo] (listen); 26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement. Hugo is considered to be one of the ...more

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The Best Victor Hugo Quotes #13 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #14 of 291 The Best Novelists of All Time

4
Arthur Rimbaud is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added A Season in Hell, Illuminations, Collected poems

Birthplace: Charleville-Mézières, France

Nationality: France

Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud (UK: , US: ; French: [aʁtyʁ ʁɛ̃bo] (listen); 20 October 1854 – 10 November 1891) was a French poet known for his influence on modern literature and arts, which ...more

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The Best Arthur Rimbaud Quotes #465 of 2,828 The Most Influential People of All Time #71 of 532 Famous Men You'd Want to Have a Beer With

5
Hafez is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added Divan-e-Hafez, Ghazalhā-yi Ḥāfiẓ, Dīvān-i Ḥafiẓ

Birthplace: Shiraz, Iran

Nationality: Iran

Khwāja Shams-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Ḥāfeẓ-e Shīrāzī (Persian: خواجه شمس‌‌الدین محمد حافظ شیرازی‎), known by his pen name Hafez (حافظ Ḥāfeẓ 'the memorizer; the (safe) keeper'; 1315-1390) and as ...more
6
Sappho is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
He is more than a hero, Awed by her splendor, Cleis

Birthplace: Lesbos, Greece

Nationality: Ancient Greece

Sappho (; Aeolic Greek Ψάπφω Psáppho; c. 630 – c. 570 BC) was an Archaic Greek poet from the island of Lesbos. Sappho is known for her lyric poetry, written to be sung while accompanied ...more

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#122 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #1,080 of 2,828 The Most Influential People of All Time

7
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock

Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri

Nationality: United States of America, United Kingdom

Thomas Stearns Eliot (26 September 1888 – 4 January 1965), "one of the twentieth century's major poets", was also an essayist, publisher, playwright, and literary and social critic. ...more

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The Best T. S. Eliot Quotes #17 of 383 The Greatest American Writers of All Time #566 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

8
Ovid is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added Metamorphoses, Elegy for Tibullus, Love and War

Birthplace: Sulmona, Italy

Nationality: Roman Republic

Publius Ovidius Naso (Classical Latin: [ˈpu:.blɪ.ʊs ɔˈwɪ.dɪ.ʊs ˈnaː.soː]; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known as Ovid () in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who lived during the reign ...more
9
John Milton is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
softserve added Paradise Lost, How Soon Hath Time, On His Blindness

Birthplace: Cheapside, United Kingdom

Nationality: England

John Milton (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674) was an English poet, polemicist, man of letters, and civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under its Council of State and later under ...more

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The Best John Milton Quotes #307 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #848 of 2,828 The Most Influential People of All Time

10
Virgil is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added The Georgics, Eclogue 1-X

Birthplace: Virgilio, Lombardy, Italy

Nationality: Roman Empire

Publius Vergilius Maro (Classical Latin: [ˈpuː.blɪ.ʊs wɛrˈɡɪ.lɪ.ʊs ˈma.roː]; traditional dates October 15, 70 BC – September 21, 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil () in English, was an ...more
11
Fernando Pessoa is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added mar sem fim, Ecologia e território, rosto e as máscaras

Birthplace: Lisbon District, Portugal

Nationality: Portugal

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, ...more
12
Federico García L... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
bonifaceVIII added The City That Does Not Sleep, Before the Dawn, Ballad of the Moon

Birthplace: Fuente Vaqueros, Spain

Nationality: Spain

Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca (Spanish pronunciation: [feðeˈɾiko ðel saˈɣɾaðo koɾaˈθon de xeˈsuz ɣaɾˈθi.a ˈloɾka]; 5 June 1898 – 19 August ...more

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#166 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #595 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

13
Aleksandr Pushkin is listed (or ranked) 13 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

Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

Nationality: Russian Empire

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (English: ; Russian: Александр Сергеевич Пушкин, tr. Aleksándr Sergéyevich Púshkin, IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr sʲɪrˈɡʲe(j)ɪvʲɪtɕ ˈpuʂkʲɪn] (listen); 6 ...more

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#60 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #328 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #234 of 2,828 The Most Influential People of All Time

14
John Donne is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Dead Be Not Proud, For whom the Bell Tolls, No Man Is an Island

Birthplace: London, United Kingdom

Nationality: England

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 ...more
15
John Keats is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
A Thing of Beauty (Endymion), Bright Star, When I Have Fears

Birthplace: Moorgate, London, England

Nationality: Kingdom of Great Britain, England

John Keats (; 31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821) 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 ...more

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The Best John Keats Quotes #71 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #552 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

16
Miguel de Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Caballero90 added Don Quijote de la Mancha, Ḍāna Kvigjoṭa, El gallardo español

Birthplace: Alcalá de Henares, Spain

Nationality: Spain

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (; US: ; Spanish: [miˈɣel de θeɾˈβantes saaˈβeðɾa]; 29 September 1547 (assumed) – 22 April 1616 NS) was a Spanish writer who is widely regarded as the greatest ...more

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#11 of 291 The Best Novelists of All Time #51 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

17
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
looksharp added In a Station of the Metro, The River-Merchant's Wife, And the days are not full enough

Birthplace: Hailey, Idaho

Nationality: Italy, United States of America

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 ...more

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The Best Ezra Pound Quotes #265 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #73 of 383 The Greatest American Writers of All Time

18
Basho is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added Winter Days, A Zen Wave, Oku no Hosomichi

Birthplace: Ueno Mie, Japan

Nationality: Japanese

Matsuo Bashō (松尾 芭蕉, 1644–1694), born 松尾 金作, then Matsuo Chūemon Munefusa (松尾 忠右衛門 宗房), was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. During his lifetime, Bashō was recognized for his ...more
19
Charles Baudelaire is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Les Fleurs du mal, 33 Poemas Simbolistas, Poems in prose from Charles Baudelaire

Birthplace: Paris, France

Nationality: France

Charles Pierre Baudelaire (UK: , US: ; French: [ʃaʁl bodlɛʁ] (listen); 9 April 1821 – 31 August 1867) was a French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering ...more

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#105 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #4 of 90 The Best French Authors

20
Boris Pasternak is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Boris Pasternak Doctor Zhivago, L'an 1905, Récit

Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

Nationality: Russian Empire, Soviet Union

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (; Russian: Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к, IPA: [bɐˈrʲis lʲɪɐˈnʲidəvʲɪtɕ pəstɨrˈnak]; 10 February [O.S. 29 January] 1890 – 30 May 1960) was a Russian poet, novelist, ...more

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#203 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #1,348 of 2,828 The Most Influential People of All Time

21
Robert Browning is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
looksharp added My Last Duchess, A Pretty Woman, Porphyria's Lover

Birthplace: Camberwell, London, United Kingdom

Nationality: England

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 ...more
22
Vazha-Pshavela is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Tamari Dzodzuashvili added Host and Guest

Birthplace: Georgia

Vazha-Pshavela (Georgian: ვაჟა-ფშაველა), simply referred to as Vazha (Georgian: ვაჟა) (26 July 1861 – 10 July 1915), is the pen name of the Georgian poet and writer Luka Razikashvili (Georgian: ...more
23
Thomas Hardy is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
"I Said to Love, " A Broken Appointment, I Need Not Go

Birthplace: Stinsford, England

Nationality: United Kingdom

Thomas Hardy (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, he was influenced both in his novels and in his poetry by ...more
24
Heinrich Heine is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Death and his Brother Sleep, Ich Kann Es Nicht Vergessen, A Palm-tree

Birthplace: Düsseldorf, Germany

Nationality: Germany

Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (German: [ˈhaɪnʁɪç ˈhaɪnə]; 13 December 1797 – 17 February 1856) was a German poet, playwright, journalist, essayist, and literary critic. He is best known ...more

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#408 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #570 of 2,828 The Most Influential People of All Time

25
Catullus is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
softserve added Leben, Lieben, Leiden. Catulls Lesbia- Gedichte Mit Begleittexten

Birthplace: Verona, Italy

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 ...more

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#73 of 100 Historical Figures You Most Want to Bring Back from the Dead #56 of 256 The Best Gay Authors