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The Greatest Poets of All Time

Updated September 12, 2020 1.0m votes 23.8k voters 173.7k 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
    7,361
    638

    Vazha-Pshavela

    Host and Guest

    BirthplaceGeorgia

    Vazha-Pshavela (Georgian: ვაჟა-ფშაველა), simply referred to as Vazha (Georgian: ვაჟა) (26 July...  more
  • Francisco de Quevedo2
    3,194
    664

    Francisco de Quevedo

    El Buscón, Sonetos de

    BirthplaceMadrid, Spain

    NationalitySpain

    Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Santibáñez Villegas, KOS (Spanish pronunciation: [fɾanˈθisko ðe...  more
  • Hristo Botev3
    2,466
    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
  • 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
  • José Emilio Pacheco5
    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
  • Hristo Smirnenski6
    2,583
    523

    Hristo Smirnenski

    Da bŭde den, Izbrani sŭchinenii︠a︡

    BirthplaceKilkis, Greece

    NationalityBulgaria

    Hristo Smirnenski (Bulgarian: Христо Смирненски), born Hristo Izmirliev, (September 17, 1898,...  more
  • Galaktion Tabidze7
    Galaktion Tabidze (Georgian: გალაკტიონ ტაბიძე), simply referred to as Galaktioni (Georgian:...  more
  • Rafael Cadenas8
    3,122
    648

    Rafael Cadenas

  • Christoph Martin Wieland9

    BirthplaceAchstetten, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Christoph Martin Wieland (German: [ˈviːlant]; 5 September 1733 – 20 January 1813) was a German...  more
  • Mihai Eminescu10
    3,013
    623

    Mihai Eminescu

    Articole şi traduceri, Scrieri de criticǎ teatralǎ

    BirthplaceBotoșani, Nord-Est, Romania

    NationalityRomania

    Mihai Eminescu (Romanian pronunciation: [miˈhaj emiˈnesku] (listen); born Mihail Eminovici; 15...  more
  • 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

    More 

    #73 of 233 The Best Female Authors of All Time#18 of 168 The Best Poets of the 20th Century

  • Giuseppe Ungaretti12
    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
  • E. J. Pratt13
    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
  • Delmira Agustini14
    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
  • Kālidāsa15
    2,566
    520

    Kālidāsa

    Raghuvaṃśa, Ṛtusaṃhāra

    BirthplaceGupta Empire

    NationalityIndia

    Kālidāsa was a Classical Sanskrit writer, widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist...  more
  • Cyprian Norwid16
    2,406
    483

    Cyprian Norwid

    Poems, letters

    BirthplaceGłuchy, Poland

    NationalityPoland

    Cyprian Kamil Norwid, a.k.a. Cyprian Konstanty Norwid (Polish pronunciation: [ˈt͡sɨprjan...  more
  • José Martí17
    3,218
    670

    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
  • Derek Walcott18
    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

    More Derek Walcott 

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

  • Richard Aldington19
    2,295
    457

    Richard Aldington

    Lawrence of Arabia, Death of a Hero

    BirthplacePortsmouth, United Kingdom

    NationalityEngland

    Richard Aldington (8 July 1892 – 27 July 1962), born Edward Godfree Aldington, was an English...  more
  • Yehuda Amichai20
    2,132
    419

    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
  • Robinson Jeffers21
    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
  • Nikoloz Baratashvili22
    Prince Nikoloz "Tato" Baratashvili (Georgian: ნიკოლოზ "ტატო" ბარათაშვილი; 4 December 1817 – 21...  more
  • Yosa Buson23
    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
  • Ben Johnson24
    2,644
    537

    Ben Johnson

    Luke & John, An evangelism primer

    BirthplaceElba, Alabama

    Ben Johnson is a minister....  more
  • Kobayashi Issa25
    2,871
    590

    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