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The Greatest Poets of All Time

Updated September 12, 2020 1.0m votes 23.7k voters 173.2k 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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  • Vazha-Pshavela1
    7,360
    638

    Vazha-Pshavela

    Host and Guest

    BirthplaceGeorgia

    Vazha-Pshavela (Georgian: ვაჟა-ფშაველა), simply referred to as Vazha (Georgian: ვაჟა) (26 July... more on Wikipedia
  • Galaktion Tabidze2
    Galaktion Tabidze (Georgian: გალაკტიონ ტაბიძე), simply referred to as Galaktioni (Georgian:... more on Wikipedia
  • José Emilio Pacheco3
    3,186
    663

    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
  • Allen Tate4
    2,841
    583

    Allen Tate

    Hovering Fly and Other Essays, Collected Poems

    BirthplaceWinchester, Kentucky

    NationalityUnited States of America

    John Orley Allen Tate (November 19, 1899 – February 9, 1979), known professionally as Allen... more on Wikipedia
  • Nicanor Parra5
    3,348
    700

    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
  • Rafael Cadenas6
    3,122
    648

    Rafael Cadenas

  • Christoph Martin Wieland7

    BirthplaceAchstetten, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Christoph Martin Wieland (German: [ˈviːlant]; 5 September 1733 – 20 January 1813) was a German... more on Wikipedia
  • Giuseppe Ungaretti8
    2,872
    590

    Giuseppe Ungaretti

    Il taccuino del vecchio, 1952-1960

    BirthplaceAlexandria, Egypt

    NationalityItaly

    Giuseppe Ungaretti (Italian: [dʒuˈzɛppe uŋɡaˈretti]; 8 February 1888 – 2 June 1970) was an... more on Wikipedia
  • Nikoloz Baratashvili9
    Prince Nikoloz "Tato" Baratashvili (Georgian: ნიკოლოზ "ტატო" ბარათაშვილი; 4 December 1817 – 21... more on Wikipedia
  • Derek Walcott10
    2,569
    519

    Derek Walcott

    Omeros, The Capeman

    BirthplaceCastries, Saint Lucia

    NationalitySaint Lucia

    Sir Derek Alton Walcott, KCSL, OBE, OCC (23 January 1930 – 17 March 2017) was a Saint Lucian... more on Wikipedia

    More Derek Walcott 

    #938 of 1,172 The Best Writers of All Time#1747 of 2,443 The Most Influential People of All Time

  • Marina Tsvetaeva11
    3,648
    769

    Marina Tsvetaeva

    Izbrannai͡a︡ proza v dvukh tomakh, Za vsekh-protivu vsekh!

    BirthplaceMoscow, Russia

    NationalityRussian Empire, Soviet Union

    Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva (Russian: Мари́на Ива́новна Цвета́ева; 8 October [O.S. 26 September]... more on Wikipedia

    More 

    #73 of 233 The Best Female Authors of All Time#19 of 168 The Best Poets of the 20th Century

  • Delmira Agustini12
    2,317
    462

    Delmira Agustini

    Selected poetry of Delmira Agustini

    BirthplaceMontevideo, Uruguay

    NationalityUruguay

    Delmira Agustini (October 24, 1886 – July 6, 1914) was an Uruguayan poet of the early 20th... more on Wikipedia
  • Paolo Iashvili13
    Paolo Iashvili (Georgian: პაოლო იაშვილი; 29 June 1894 – 22 July 1937) was a Georgian poet and... more on Wikipedia
  • Robert Brasillach14
    2,833
    581

    Robert Brasillach

    A translation of Notre avant-guerre/Before the war by Robert Brasillach

    BirthplacePerpignan, France

    NationalityFrance

    Robert Brasillach (French pronunciation: [ʁɔbɛʁ bʁazijak] (listen)) (31 March 1909 – 6... more on Wikipedia
  • E. J. Pratt15
    2,345
    468

    E. J. Pratt

    Complete poems, Selected poems

    BirthplaceNewfoundland Colony

    NationalityCanada

    Edwin John Dove Pratt, (February 4, 1882 – April 26, 1964), who published as E. J. Pratt,... more on Wikipedia
  • William Dean Howells16
    2,501
    503

    William Dean Howells

    The Rise of Silas Lapham, A Traveler from Altruria

    BirthplaceMartins Ferry, Ohio

    NationalityUnited States of America

    William Dean Howells (; March 1, 1837 – May 11, 1920) was an American realist novelist,... more on Wikipedia
  • Francisco de Quevedo17
    3,193
    664

    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
  • Yosa Buson18
    2,356
    470

    Yosa Buson

    Haiku master Buson, Yosa no Buson

    BirthplaceSettsu Province

    NationalityJapan

    Yosa Buson or Yosa no Buson (与謝 蕪村, 1716 – January 17, 1784) was a Japanese poet and painter... more on Wikipedia
  • Oliverio Girondo19
    3,214
    669

    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
  • Theodore Roethke20
    2,993
    618

    Theodore Roethke

    My Papa's Waltz, I Knew a Woman

    BirthplaceSaginaw, Michigan

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Theodore Huebner Roethke ( RET-kee; May 25, 1908 – August 1, 1963) was an American poet.... more on Wikipedia
  • Ben Johnson21
    2,644
    537

    Ben Johnson

    Luke & John, An evangelism primer

    BirthplaceElba, Alabama

    Ben Johnson is a minister.
  • Hristo Botev22
    2,465
    496

    Hristo Botev

    Hristo Botev selected works

    BirthplaceKalofer, Yuzhen tsentralen, Bulgaria

    NationalityBulgaria

    Hristo Botev (Bulgarian: Христо Ботев, also transliterated as Hristo Botyov) (6 January 1848... more on Wikipedia
  • Robinson Jeffers23
    2,903
    597

    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... more on Wikipedia
  • Delmore Schwartz24
    2,616
    530

    Delmore Schwartz

    The fiction of William Faulkner, Delmore Schwartz and James Laughlin

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Delmore Schwartz (December 8, 1913 – July 11, 1966) was an American poet and short story... more on Wikipedia
  • Hartmann von Aue25
    3,136
    650

    Hartmann von Aue

    Life & Doctrines of Jacob Boehme, Iwein

    BirthplaceGermany

    NationalityGermany

    Hartmann von Aue, also known as Hartmann von Ouwe, (born c. 1160–70, died c. 1210–20) was a... more on Wikipedia