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
3,395 1,029
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 was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's ...more

2
3,200 915
Homer is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
housecat added The Iliad, The Odyssey
Homerus, best known as his anglicised name Homer, is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. He was believed by the ancient Greeks to have been the first and greatest of the epic poets. Author ...more

3
3,186 909
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 degli Alighieri, simply called Dante, was a major Italian poet of the late Middle Ages. His Divine Comedy, originally called Comedìa and later called Divina by Boccaccio, is ...more

4
3,152 952
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 was an American author, poet, editor, and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of ...more

5
3,043 852
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 was a German writer and statesman. His body of work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of metres and styles; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an ...more

6
2,994 852
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 was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as ...more

7
2,968 831
William Blake is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
The Tiger, A Poison Tree, Auguries of Innocence
William Blake was an English painter, poet and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the ...more

8
3,022 848
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
O Captain! My Captain!, A Clear Midnight, A child said What is the grass?
Walter "Walt" Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his ...more

9
2,887 714
Rudyard Kipling is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Mandalay, If, A Child's Garden
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He wrote tales and poems of British soldiers in India and stories for children. He was born in Bombay, in the Bombay ...more

10
2,988 768
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 10 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 was an American poet. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a successful family with strong community ties, she lived a mostly introverted and reclusive life. After she ...more

11
2,943 720
Rabindranath Tagore is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Kony, The Home and the World, Chokher Bali
Rabindranath Tagore, also written Rabīndranātha Thākura, sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali polymath who reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in ...more

12
2,863 751
Rainer Maria Rilke is listed (or ranked) 12 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 —better known as Rainer Maria Rilke —was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist, "widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense ...more

13
2,742 733
Henrik Ibsen is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
schuechen added In the Picture Gallery, Mountain Life, Thanks
Henrik Johan Ibsen was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as "the father of realism" and is one of the founders of Modernism ...more

14
3,023 673
Aleksandr Pushkin is listed (or ranked) 14 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 was a Russian author of the Romantic era who is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. Pushkin was born ...more

15
2,956 719
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 15 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 was an American poet. His work was initially published in England before it was published in America. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his ...more

16
2,962 721
Pablo Neruda is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
If You Forget Me, I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You, Don't Go Far Off
Pablo Neruda was the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean poet-diplomat and politician Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He derived his pen name from the Czech poet Jan Neruda. He won ...more

17
2,845 696
Friedrich Schiller is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Friendship, Human Knowledge, Amalia
Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright. During the last seventeen years of his life, Schiller struck up a productive, if complicated, ...more

18
2,946 700
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, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, FRS, commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was an English poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement. ...more

19
2,767 629
Robert Burns is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Auld Lang Syne, A Red Red Rose, My Heart's In the Highlands
Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots ...more

20
2,787 684
Giovanni Boccaccio is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Polar Bear added Proem, Balleta, Sonetto
Giovanni Boccaccio was an Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch, and an important Renaissance humanist. Boccaccio wrote a number of notable works, including The Decameron and On Famous ...more

21
2,776 666
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Ten... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
Ulysses, All Things Will Die, Charge Of The Light Brigade
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS was Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular British poets. Tennyson excelled ...more

22
2,936 656
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 22 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

23
2,774 613
Petrarch is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
chrisstbax added Petrarch, From 'Visions'
Francesco Petrarca, commonly anglicized as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar and poet in Renaissance Italy, and one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch's rediscovery of Cicero's letters is often ...more

24
2,761 676
Geoffrey Chaucer is listed (or ranked) 24 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

25
2,957 659
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 25 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