Poetry

The Greatest Poets of All Time  

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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
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?, My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun
William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest ...more
2
Homer is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
housecat added The Iliad, The Odyssey
Homer (; Ancient Greek: Ὅμηρος Greek pronunciation: [hómɛːros], Hómēros) is the legendary author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, two epic poems that are the central works of ancient ...more
3
Dante Alighieri is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
The Divine Comedy, Love and the Gentle Heart, Sestina
Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri (Italian: [duˈrante deʎʎ aliˈɡjɛːri]; Latin: Dantes), commonly known by his pen name Dante Alighieri or simply as Dante (, also US: , Italian: [ˈdante]; ...more
4
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
The Raven, A Dream Within a Dream, Annabel Lee
Edgar Allan Poe (; born Edgar Poe; January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his ...more
5
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
schuechen added Der Erlkönig, Herbstgefühle, Prometheus
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (, also US: GURT-ə, GAYT-ə, -⁠ee; German: [ˈjoːhan ˈvɔlfɡaŋ fɔn ˈɡøːtə] (listen); 28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German writer and statesman. His works ...more
6
William Butler Yeats is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
When You Are Old, He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven, A Crazed Girl
William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. A pillar of the Irish literary establishment, he helped to ...more
7
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
O Captain! My Captain!, A Clear Midnight, A child said What is the grass?
Walt Whitman (; May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist, and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating ...more
8
Rabindranath Tagore is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Kony, The Home and the World, Chokher Bali
Rabindranath Tagore ( (listen); born Robindronath Thakur, 7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941), and also known by his sobriquets Gurudev, Kabiguru, and Biswakabi, was a polymath, poet, musician, and ...more
9
William Blake is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
The Tiger, A Poison Tree, Auguries of Innocence
William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history ...more
10
Friedrich Schiller is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Friendship, Human Knowledge, Amalia
Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (German: [ˈjoːhan ˈkʁɪstɔf ˈfʁiːdʁɪç fɔn ˈʃɪlɐ]; 10 November 1759 – 9 May 1805) was a German poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and ...more
11
Rudyard Kipling is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Mandalay, If, A Child's Garden
Joseph Rudyard Kipling ( RUD-yərd; 30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in India, which inspired much of his work. ...more
12
Robert Burns is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Auld Lang Syne, A Red Red Rose, My Heart's In the Highlands
Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796), also known familiarly as Rabbie Burns, the National Bard, Bard of Ayrshire and the Ploughman Poet and various other names and epithets, was a ...more
13
Rainer Maria Rilke is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added A Walk, The Panther, Again and Again
René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926), better known as Rainer Maria Rilke (German: [ˈʁaɪnɐ maˈʁiːa ˈʁɪlkə]), was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and ...more
14
Henrik Ibsen is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
schuechen added Henrik Ibsen In the Picture Gallery, Mountain Life, Thanks
Henrik Johan Ibsen (; Norwegian: [ˈhɛnrɪk ˈɪpsn̩]; 20 March 1828 – 23 May 1906) was a Norwegian playwright and theatre director. As one of the founders of modernism in theatre, Ibsen is often ...more
15
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Ten... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Ulysses, All Things Will Die, Charge Of The Light Brigade
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson (6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892) was a British poet. He was the Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains ...more
16
Petrarch is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added Petrarch, From 'Visions'
Francesco Petrarca (Italian: [franˈtʃesko peˈtrarka]; July 20, 1304 – July 18/19, 1374), commonly anglicized as Petrarca (), was an Italian scholar and poet during early Italian Renaissance who ...more
17
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Hope is the thing with feathers, Faith is a fine invention, Heaven--is what I cannot reach!
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet. Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, into a prominent family with strong ties to its community. After ...more
18
George Gordon Byron is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
She Walks In Beauty, There Is Pleasure In The Pathless Woods, When We Two Parted
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824), known simply as Lord Byron, was an English poet, peer, and politician who became a revolutionary in the Greek War of ...more
19
Giovanni Boccaccio is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Proem, Balleta, Sonetto
Giovanni Boccaccio (UK: , US: , Italian: [dʒoˈvanni bokˈkattʃo]; 16 June 1313 – 21 December 1375) was an Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch, and an important Renaissance humanist. ...more
20
Novalis is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Hymns to the Night
Novalis (; German: [noˈvaːlɪs]) was the pseudonym and pen name of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg (2 May 1772 – 25 March 1801), a poet, author, mystic, and philosopher of Early ...more
21
Aleksandr Pushkin is listed (or ranked) 21 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
Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (English: ; Russian: Александр Сергеевич Пушкин, tr. Aleksándr Sergéyevich Púshkin, IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr sʲɪrˈɡʲe(j)ɪvʲɪtɕ ˈpuʂkʲɪn] (listen); 6 ...more
22
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Cinderella, Ariel, Mirror
Sylvia Plath (; October 27, 1932 – February 11, 1963) was an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, she studied at Smith College and Newnham College at ...more
23
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
The Road Not Taken, Fire and Ice, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet. His work was initially published in England before it was published in America. Known for his realistic depictions of ...more
24
Percy Bysshe Shelley is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
softserve added Percy Bysshe Shelley Ozymandias, A Lament, Love's Philosophy
Percy Bysshe Shelley ( (listen) BISH; 4 August 1792 – 8 July 1822) was one of the major English Romantic poets, who is regarded by some as among the finest lyric and philosophical poets in the ...more
25
Pindar is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
bonifaceVIII added Isthmian Odes of Pindar, The works of Pindar, Pindar's IV. Pythische Ode
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 ...more