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The Greatest Poets of All Time

Updated September 12, 2020 1.0m votes 24.1k voters 180.7k views369 items

List RulesVote 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


    Host and Guest


    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: ლუკა...  more
  • 2
    Galaktion Tabidze (Georgian: გალაკტიონ ტაბიძე), simply referred to as Galaktioni (Georgian: გალაკტიონი) (November 17, 1892 – March 17, 1959), was a leading Georgian poet of the twentieth century...  more
  • 3


    Inanna, Lady of Largest Heart


    Enheduanna (Sumerian: ...  more
  • 4

    Sandra Cisneros

    The House on Mango Street, Caramelo

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, USA

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Sandra Cisneros (born December 20, 1954) is an American writer. She is best known for her first novel The House on Mango Street (1984) and her subsequent short story collection Woman Hollering Creek...  more
  • 5

    Gabriela Mistral

    Lagar II, Selected prose and prose-poems

    BirthplaceVicuña, Chile


    Lucila Godoy Alcayaga (American Spanish: [luˈsila ɣoˈdoj alkaˈʝaɣa]; 7 April 1889 – 10 January 1957), known by her pseudonym Gabriela Mistral (Spanish: [ɡaˈβɾjela misˈtɾal]), was a Chilean...  more
  • 6

    Alan Seeger

    Letters And Diary Of Alan Seeger, Poems

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Alan Seeger (22 June 1888 – 4 July 1916) was an American poet who fought and died in World War I during the Battle of the Somme, serving in the French Foreign Legion. Seeger was the brother of...  more
  • 7
    Prince Nikoloz "Tato" Baratashvili (Georgian: ნიკოლოზ "ტატო" ბარათაშვილი; 4 December 1817 – 21 October 1845) was a Georgian poet. He was one of the first Georgians to marry modern nationalism with...  more
  • 8


    Preiddeu Annwfn, The poems of Taliesin


    Taliesin (fl. 6th century AD; ; Welsh pronunciation: [talˈjɛsɪn]) was an early Brythonic poet of Sub-Roman Britain whose work has possibly survived in a Middle Welsh manuscript, the Book of Taliesin....  more
  • 9

    Gwendolyn Brooks

    In the Mecca; Poems, Annie Allen

    BirthplaceTopeka, Kansas

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks (June 7, 1917 – December 3, 2000) was an American poet, author, and teacher. Her work often dealt with the personal celebrations and struggles of ordinary people in her...  more

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    #51 of 153 The Best Poets of the 20th Century#6 of 19 The Greatest Black Female Poets

  • 10

    Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer

    Obras de Gustavo A. Becquer, Clasicos de Amor

    BirthplaceSeville, Spain


    Gustavo Adolfo Claudio Domínguez Bastida, better known as Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (February 17, 1836, Seville – December 22, 1870, Madrid), was a Spanish Romanticist poet and writer (mostly short...  more
  • 11
    Paolo Iashvili (Georgian: პაოლო იაშვილი; 29 June 1894 – 22 July 1937) was a Georgian poet and one of the leaders of Georgian symbolist movement. Under the Soviet Union, his obligatory conformism and...  more
  • 12

    King David of Israel

  • 13
    Leopoldo Cano y Masas (November 13, 1844 – 1934) was a Spanish soldier, poet and playwright associated with the Realist movement....  more
  • 14

    Luis de Góngora

    Sonetos completos, Obras de don Luis de Góngora

    BirthplaceCórdoba, Spain


    Luis de Góngora y Argote (born Luis de Argote y Góngora) (Spanish pronunciation: [lwiz ðe ˈɣoŋɡoɾa]; 11 July 1561 – 24 May 1627) was a Spanish Baroque lyric poet. Góngora and his lifelong rival,...  more
  • 15

    José Martí

    Inside the Monster, Tu Martí

    BirthplaceHavana, Cuba

    NationalityUnited States of America, Spain, Cuba

    José Julián Martí Pérez (Spanish pronunciation: [xoˈse maɾˈti]; January 28, 1853 – May 19, 1895) was a Cuban poet, essayist, journalist, translator, professor, and publisher, who is considered a...  more
  • 16

    Karin Boye

    Kallocain, För trädets skull

    BirthplaceGothenburg, Sweden


    Karin Maria Boye (listen ; 26 October 1900 – 24 April 1941) was a Swedish poet and novelist. In Sweden she is acclaimed as a poet, but internationally she is best known for the dystopian science...  more
  • 17

    Lascelles Abercrombie

    Emblems of Love, New English poems

    BirthplaceAshton upon Mersey, United Kingdom


    Lascelles Abercrombie, (9 January 1881 – 27 October 1938) was a British poet and literary critic, one of the "Dymock poets". He served as an English language professor....  more
  • 18

    José Antonio Ramos Sucre

    José Antonio Ramos Sucre (Cumaná, 9 June 1890 – Geneva, 13 June 1930) was a Venezuelan poet, professor, diplomat and scholar. He was a member of the Sucre family of Venezuela and the...  more
  • 19

    Tomas Tranströmer

    Fängelse, The Sorrow Gondola

    BirthplaceStockholm, Sweden


    Tomas Gösta Tranströmer (Swedish: [ˈtʊmːas ²jœsːta ²trɑːnˌstrœmːɛr]; 15 April 1931 – 26 March 2015) was a Swedish poet, psychologist and translator. His poems captured the long Swedish winters, the...  more
  • 20

    Phillis Wheatley

    Poems of Phillis Wheatley, The collected works of Phillis Wheatley

    BirthplaceWest Africa

    Phillis Wheatley, also spelled Phyllis and Wheatly (c. 1753 – December 5, 1784) was the first African-American woman to publish a book of poetry. Born in West Africa, she was sold into slavery at...  more

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    #76 of 120 The Best American Poets#26 of 78 The Best Female Poets of All Time

  • 21

    Robinson Jeffers

    The beginning & the end, and other poems

    BirthplaceAllegheny, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    NationalityUnited States of America

    John Robinson Jeffers (January 10, 1887 – January 20, 1962) was an American poet, known for his work about the central California coast. Much of Jeffers' poetry was written in narrative and epic...  more
  • 22

    Giuseppe Ungaretti

    Il taccuino del vecchio, 1952-1960

    BirthplaceAlexandria, Egypt


    Giuseppe Ungaretti (Italian: [dʒuˈzɛppe uŋɡaˈretti]; 8 February 1888 – 2 June 1970) was an Italian modernist poet, journalist, essayist, critic, academic, and recipient of the inaugural 1970 Neustadt...  more
  • 23

    Constantine P. Cavafy

    Gefärbtes Glas. Historische Gedichte, Das Hauptwerk

    BirthplaceAlexandria, Egypt

    NationalityUnited Kingdom

    Constantine Peter Cavafy (; also known as Konstantin or Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis; Greek: Κωνσταντίνος Π. Καβάφης [kaˈvafis]; April 29 (April 17, OS), 1863 – April 29, 1933) was an Egyptiot Greek...  more
  • 24

    Thomas Chatterton

    Selected Poems, The Rowley Poems

    BirthplaceBristol, United Kingdom


    Thomas Chatterton (20 November 1752 – 24 August 1770) was an English poet whose precocious talents ended in suicide at age 17. He was an influence on Romantic artists of the period such as Shelley,...  more
  • 25


    De rerum natura, Di Lucrezio Caro Della natura delle cose libri VI
    Titus Lucretius Carus (; c. 15 October 99 BC – c. 55 BC) was a Roman poet and philosopher. His only known work is the philosophical poem De rerum natura, a didactic work about the tenets and...  more