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The Greatest Poets of All Time

Updated September 12, 2020 1.0m votes 22.4k voters 163.0k 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.

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  • 1
    Vazha-Pshavela is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    5,625
    592

    Vazha-Pshavela

    Host and Guest

    BirthplaceGeorgia

    Vazha-Pshavela (Georgian: ვაჟა-ფშაველა), simply referred to as Vazha (Georgian: ვაჟა) (26 July... more on Wikipedia
  • 2
    Juan Ramón Jiménez is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    3,154
    630

    Juan Ramón Jiménez

    Cancion, Piedra y Cielo

    BirthplaceMoguer, Spain

    NationalitySpain

    Juan Ramón Jiménez Mantecón (23 December 1881 – 29 May 1958) was a Spanish poet, a prolific... more on Wikipedia

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    #398 of 1,172 The Best Writers of All Time#2083 of 2,443 The Most Influential People of All Time

  • 3
    Octavio Paz is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    3,129
    622

    Octavio Paz

    The Labyrinth of Solitude, The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz

    BirthplaceMexico City, Mexico

    NationalityMexico

    Octavio Paz Lozano (March 31, 1914 – April 19, 1998) was a Mexican poet and diplomat. For his... more on Wikipedia
  • 4
    Francisco de Quevedo is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    3,187
    639

    Francisco de Quevedo

    El Buscón, Sonetos de

    BirthplaceMadrid, Spain

    NationalitySpain

    Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Santibáñez Villegas, KOS (Spanish pronunciation: [fɾanˈθisko ðe... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    José Emilio Pacheco is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    3,184
    637

    José Emilio Pacheco

    The Place Without Limits, The Castle of Purity

    BirthplaceMexico City, Mexico

    NationalityMexico

    José Emilio Pacheco Berny audio (June 30, 1939 – January 26, 2014) was a Mexican poet,... more on Wikipedia
  • 6
    Anna Akhmatova is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    3,211
    628

    Anna Akhmatova

    Anna Akhmatova, Selected Poems

    BirthplaceUkraine, Eurasia, Kherson Governorate, Odessa

    NationalityRussia, Soviet Union

    Anna Andreyevna Gorenko (23 June [O.S. 11 June] 1889 – 5 March 1966), better known by the pen... more on Wikipedia
  • 7
    Muhammad Iqbal is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    2,612
    507

    Muhammad Iqbal

    Nigārishāt-i Iqbāl, Rubayiat of Iqbal

    BirthplaceSialkot, Pakistan

    NationalityBritish Raj

    Sir Muhammad Iqbal (; Urdu: محمد اِقبال‎; 9 November 1877 – 21 April 1938), widely known as... more on Wikipedia

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    #322 of 350 The Most Important Leaders In World History#853 of 1,357 The Greatest Minds of All Time

  • 8
    Sor Juana is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    3,319
    671

    Sor Juana

    Poesía, teatro y prosa

    BirthplaceTepetlixpa, Mexico

    NationalitySpain, Mexico

    Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, O.S.H. (English: Sister Joan Agnes of the Cross; 12 November 1648 –... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    Rafael Alberti is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    2,955
    584

    Rafael Alberti

    The Ghost Lady, Selected Poems

    BirthplaceEl Puerto de Santa María, Spain

    NationalitySpain

    Rafael Alberti Merello (16 December 1902 – 28 October 1999) was a Spanish poet, a member of... more on Wikipedia
  • 10
    Alfonsina Storni is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    2,945
    588

    Alfonsina Storni

    Poesías, Antologia

    BirthplaceSala Capriasca, Switzerland

    NationalityArgentina

    Alfonsina Storni (29 May 1892 – 25 October 1938) was an Argentine poet of the modernist... more on Wikipedia
  • 11
    Constantine P. Cavafy is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    2,853
    561

    Constantine P. Cavafy

    Gefärbtes Glas. Historische Gedichte, Das Hauptwerk

    BirthplaceAlexandria, North Africa, Egypt, Alexandria Governorate, Africa

    NationalityUnited Kingdom

    Constantine Peter Cavafy (; also known as Konstantin or Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis; Greek:... more on Wikipedia

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    #96 of 250 The Best Gay Authors#41 of 163 The Best Poets of the 20th Century

  • 12
    Roque Dalton is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    2,646
    521

    Roque Dalton

    Un libro rojo para Lenin, Ultimos Poemas - Roque Dalton

    BirthplaceSan Salvador, El Salvador

    NationalityEl Salvador

    Roque Antonio Dalton García (San Salvador, El Salvador, 14 May 1935 – Quezaltepeque, El... more on Wikipedia
  • 13
    Oliverio Girondo is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    3,211
    636

    Oliverio Girondo

    Membretes =, Textos selectos

    BirthplaceBuenos Aires, Argentina

    NationalityArgentina

    Oliverio Girondo (August 17, 1891 – January 24, 1967) was an Argentine poet. He was born in... more on Wikipedia
  • 14
    José Antonio Ramos Sucre is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    3,227
    649

    José Antonio Ramos Sucre

    José Antonio Ramos Sucre (Cumaná, 9 June 1890 – Geneva, 13 June 1930) was a Venezuelan poet,... more on Wikipedia
  • 15
    José Martí is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    3,217
    650

    José Martí

    Inside the Monster, Tu Martí

    BirthplaceHavana, Cuba

    NationalitySpain, Cuba

    José Julián Martí Pérez (Spanish pronunciation: [xoˈse maɾˈti]; January 28, 1853 – May 19,... more on Wikipedia
  • 16
    Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    3,207
    648

    Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer

    Obras de Gustavo A. Becquer, Clasicos de Amor

    BirthplaceSeville, Spain

    NationalitySpain

    Gustavo Adolfo Claudio Domínguez Bastida, better known as Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (February... more on Wikipedia
  • 17
    Attar of Nishapur is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    2,729
    535

    Attar of Nishapur

    Mantiq-ut-Tayr (Conference of the Birds)

    BirthplaceNishapur, Iran

    Abū Ḥamīd bin Abū Bakr Ibrāhīm (c. 1145 – c. 1221; Persian: ابو حامد بن ابوبکر ابراهیم‎),... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    Theodor Fontane is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    3,259
    658

    Theodor Fontane

    Effi Briest, Irrungen

    BirthplaceNeuruppin, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Theodor Fontane (German: [ˈtʰeːodoɐ̯ fɔnˈtaːnə]; 30 December 1819 – 20 September 1898) was a... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    Lesya Ukrainka is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    2,994
    594

    Lesya Ukrainka

    The Forest Song, Boiarynia

    BirthplaceNovohrad-Volynskyi, Ukraine

    NationalityRussian Empire

    Lesya Ukrainka (Ukrainian: Леся Українка) (born Larysa Petrivna Kosach-Kvitka (Ukrainian:... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    Elizabeth Barrett Browning is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    2,985
    594

    Elizabeth Barrett Browning

    How Do I Love Thee?, A Curse for a Nation

    BirthplaceKelloe, United Kingdom

    NationalityEngland

    Elizabeth Barrett Browning (née Moulton-Barrett, ; 6 March 1806 – 29 June 1861) was an English... more on Wikipedia

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    #60 of 232 The Best Female Authors of All Time#24 of 111 The Best English Poets of All Time

  • 21
    Jane Austen is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    2,565
    503

    Jane Austen

    Pride and Prejudice, Emma

    BirthplaceSteventon, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom, England

    Jane Austen (; 16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist known primarily for... more on Wikipedia

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    The Best Books Inspired by Pride and PrejudiceBest Movies and Shows Based on Jane Austen Books

  • 22
    Nicanor Parra is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    3,343
    680

    Nicanor Parra

    Poesía política, Poemas y antipoemas

    BirthplaceSan Fabián de Alico, Chile

    NationalityChile

    Nicanor Segundo Parra Sandoval (5 September 1914 – 23 January 2018) was a Chilean poet,... more on Wikipedia
  • 23
    Sarah Fuller Flower Adams is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    Sarah Fuller Flower Adams (or Sally Adams) (1805 – 1848) was an English poet and hymnwriter,... more on Wikipedia
  • 24
    Rafael Cadenas is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    3,122
    628

    Rafael Cadenas

  • 25
    Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Poets of All Time
    3,010
    603

    Herman Melville

    Gold in the Mountain, America

    BirthplaceManhattan, New York City, New York

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Herman Melville (born Melvill; August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891) was an American novelist,... more on Wikipedia

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    #7 of 342 The Greatest American Writers of All Time#28 of 171 The Best Short Story Writers of All Time

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