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The Greatest Poets of All Time

Updated September 12, 2020 1.0m votes 22.7k voters 166.2k 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
    6,132
    612

    Vazha-Pshavela

    Host and Guest

    BirthplaceGeorgia

    Vazha-Pshavela (Georgian: ვაჟა-ფშაველა), simply referred to as Vazha (Georgian: ვაჟა) (26 July... more on Wikipedia
  • 2
    Anna Akhmatova
    3,236
    658

    Anna Akhmatova

    Anna Akhmatova, Selected Poems

    BirthplaceOdessa, Ukraine

    NationalityRussia, Soviet Union

    Anna Andreyevna Gorenko (23 June [O.S. 11 June] 1889 – 5 March 1966), better known by the pen... more on Wikipedia

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    #126 of 233 The Best Female Authors of All Time#65 of 127 The Best Russian Authors

  • 3
    Attar of Nishapur
    2,741
    541

    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
  • 4
    Constantine P. Cavafy
    2,861
    571

    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
  • 5
    Oliverio Girondo
    3,211
    646

    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
  • 6
    Muhammad Iqbal
    2,628
    521

    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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    #43 of 191 Freedom Fighters of India#323 of 347 The Most Important Leaders In World History

  • 7
    Sarah Fuller Flower Adams
    Sarah Fuller Flower Adams (or Sally Adams) (1805 – 1848) was an English poet and hymnwriter,... more on Wikipedia
  • 8
    José Antonio Ramos Sucre
    3,227
    656

    José Antonio Ramos Sucre

    José Antonio Ramos Sucre (Cumaná, 9 June 1890 – Geneva, 13 June 1930) was a Venezuelan poet,... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer
    3,211
    655

    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
  • 10
    Rafael Cadenas
    3,122
    632

    Rafael Cadenas

  • 11
    Meera
    2,522
    498
    Meera, also known as Meera Bai or Mirabai (1498–1546/1547) was a 16th-century Hindu mystic... more on Wikipedia
  • 12
  • 13
    Vicente Huidobro
    2,378
    465

    Vicente Huidobro

    Vanguardia en Chile, Mirror of a mage

    BirthplaceSantiago, Chile

    NationalityChile

    Vicente García-Huidobro Fernández (American Spanish: [biˈsente ɣwiˈdoβɾo]; January 10, 1893 –... more on Wikipedia
  • 14
    Octavio Paz
    3,132
    636

    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
  • 15
    Wilhelm Busch
    3,264
    664

    Wilhelm Busch

    Der Herr ist mein Licht und mein Heil, Max and Moritz

    BirthplaceWiedensahl, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Heinrich Christian Wilhelm Busch (15 April 1832 – 9 January 1908) was a German humorist, poet,... more on Wikipedia
  • 16
    José Emilio Pacheco
    3,185
    648

    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
  • 17
    Rafael Alberti
    2,957
    596

    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
  • 18
    Luis de Góngora
    3,214
    655

    Luis de Góngora

    Sonetos completos, Obras de don Luis de Góngora

    BirthplaceCórdoba, Spain

    NationalitySpain

    Luis de Góngora y Argote (born Luis de Argote y Góngora) (Spanish pronunciation: [lwiz ðe... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    Aquiles Nazoa
    2,828
    567

    Aquiles Nazoa

    The Yacht Isabel Arrived This Afternoon

    BirthplaceCaracas, Venezuela

    NationalityVenezuela

    Aquiles Nazoa (Caracas, 17 May 1920 - 26 April 1976) was a Venezuelan writer, journalist, poet... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    Roque Dalton
    2,646
    527

    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
  • 21
    Francisco de Quevedo
    3,191
    652

    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
  • 22
    Kobayashi Issa
    2,866
    576

    Kobayashi Issa

    The autumn wind, The spring of my life

    BirthplaceShinano Province

    NationalityJapan

    Kobayashi Issa (小林 一茶, June 15, 1763 – January 5, 1828) was a Japanese poet and lay Buddhist... more on Wikipedia
  • 23
    Alfonsina Storni
    2,946
    595

    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
  • 24
    Herman Melville
    3,014
    609

    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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    #14 of 1,172 The Best Writers of All Time#346 of 1,357 The Greatest Minds of All Time

  • 25
    Yehuda Amichai
    2,132
    409

    Yehuda Amichai

    The great tranquillity, The world is a room and other stories

    BirthplaceWürzburg, Germany

    NationalityIsrael, Germany

    Yehuda Amichai (Hebrew: יהודה עמיחי‎;born Ludwig Pfeuffer ‎3 May 1924 – 22 September 2000) was... more on Wikipedia

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    #103 of 168 The Best Poets of the 20th Century#2 of 41 The Best Jewish Poets of All Time