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The Greatest Poets of All Time

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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  • Host and Guest
    6,594
    729

    BirthplaceGeorgia

    Vazha-Pshavela (Georgian: ვაჟა-ფშაველა), simply referred to as Vazha (Georgian: ვაჟა) (26 July 1861 – 10 July 1915), is the pen name of the Georgian poet and writer Luka Razikashvili (Georgian: ლუკა  ...more
  • 2

    Shota Rustaveli

    The Knight in the Panther's Skin, Le chevalier à la peu de tigre
    2,657
    458

    BirthplaceGeorgia

    Shota Rustaveli (Georgian: შოთა რუსთაველი, c. 1160—after c. 1220), mononymously known simply as Rustaveli, was a medieval Georgian poet. He is considered to be the pre-eminent poet of the Georgian  ...more
  • De rerum natura, Di Lucrezio Caro Della natura delle cose libri VI
    3,429
    721
    Titus Lucretius Carus (; c. 15 October 99 BC – c. 55 BC) was a Roman poet and philosopher. His only known work is the philosophical poem De rerum natura, a didactic work about the tenets and  ...more
  • Galaktion Tabidze (Georgian: გალაკტიონ ტაბიძე), simply referred to as Galaktioni (Georgian: გალაკტიონი) (November 17, 1892 – March 17, 1959), was a leading Georgian poet of the twentieth century  ...more
  • Anna Akhmatova, Selected Poems
    3,224
    675

    BirthplaceOdessa, Ukraine

    Anna Andreyevna Gorenko (23 June [O.S. 11 June] 1889 – 5 March 1966), better known by the pen name Anna Akhmatova (; Russian: Анна Ахматова, IPA: [ɐxˈmatəvə]), was one of the most significant Russian  ...more
  • Ballade, The Debate Between Villon And His Heart
    3,252
    682

    BirthplaceParis, France

    François Villon (pronounced [fʁɑ̃swa vijɔ̃] in modern French; in fifteenth-century French, [frɑnswɛ vilɔn], circa 1431-c. 1463), is the best known French poet of the Late Middle Ages. A ne'er-do-well  ...more
  • To His Coy Mistress, A Dialogue Between the Soul and Body
    3,124
    648

    BirthplaceWinestead, United Kingdom

    Andrew Marvell (; 31 March 1621 – 16 August 1678) was an English metaphysical poet, satirist and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1659 and 1678. During the  ...more
  • Luke & John, An evangelism primer
    2,650
    540

    BirthplaceElba, Alabama

    Ben Johnson is a minister.  ...more
  • How Do I Love Thee?, A Curse for a Nation
    3,002
    623

    BirthplaceKelloe, United Kingdom

    Elizabeth Barrett Browning (née Moulton-Barrett, ; 6 March 1806 – 29 June 1861) was an English poet of the Victorian era, popular in Britain and the United States during her lifetime. Born in County  ...more

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    #14 of 44 The Best Romantic Era Poets#549 of 1,367 Every Person Who Has Been Immortalized in a Google Doodle

  • Prince Nikoloz "Tato" Baratashvili (Georgian: ნიკოლოზ "ტატო" ბარათაშვილი; 4 December 1817 – 21 October 1845) was a Georgian poet. He was one of the first Georgians to marry modern nationalism with  ...more
  • Howl, Father Death Blues
    2,780
    574

    BirthplaceNewark, New Jersey, United States of America

    Irwin Allen Ginsberg (; June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) was an American poet, philosopher and writer. He is considered to be one of the leading figures of both the Beat Generation during the 1950s and  ...more

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    #56 of 105 The Most Influential Contemporary Americans#103 of 223 Pisces Moon Celebrities#24 of 134 The Most Controversial Writers of All Time

  • A Night in a Moorish Harem, The temple & A priest to the temple
    3,079
    638

    BirthplaceMontgomery, United Kingdom

    George Herbert (3 April 1593 – 1 March 1633) was a Welsh-born poet, orator, and priest of the Church of England. His poetry is associated with the writings of the metaphysical poets, and he is  ...more
  • Helen of Troy and Other Poems, Love Songs
    2,449
    493

    BirthplaceSt. Louis, Missouri

    Sara Teasdale (August 8, 1884 – January 29, 1933) was an American lyric poet. She was born Sarah Trevor Teasdale in St. Louis, Missouri, and used the name Sara Teasdale Filsinger after her marriage  ...more
  • The face that launch'd a thousand ships, Hero and Leander
    3,261
    676

    BirthplaceCanterbury, United Kingdom

    Christopher Marlowe, also known as Kit Marlowe (; baptised 26 February 1564 – 30 May 1593), was an English playwright, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. Marlowe was the foremost Elizabethan  ...more
  • Verwandlungen / Transformations, All My Pretty Ones
    2,901
    602

    BirthplaceNewton, Massachusetts

    Anne Sexton (November 9, 1928 – October 4, 1974) was an American poet known for her highly personal, confessional verse. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for her book Live or Die. Her  ...more

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    #34 of 153 The Best Poets of the 20th Century#12 of 78 The Best Female Poets of All Time

  • Paolo Iashvili (Georgian: პაოლო იაშვილი; 29 June 1894 – 22 July 1937) was a Georgian poet and one of the leaders of Georgian symbolist movement. Under the Soviet Union, his obligatory conformism and  ...more
  • 17

    King David of Israel

    2,933
    607
  • My Last Duchess, A Pretty Woman
    3,538
    750

    BirthplaceCamberwell, London, United Kingdom

    Robert Browning (7 May 1812 – 12 December 1889) was an English poet and playwright whose mastery of the dramatic monologue made him one of the foremost Victorian poets. His poems are known for their  ...more

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    #404 of 1,172 The Best Writers of All Time#14 of 113 The Best English Poets of All Time

  • Il taccuino del vecchio, 1952-1960
    2,867
    592

    BirthplaceAlexandria, Egypt

    Giuseppe Ungaretti (Italian: [dʒuˈzɛppe uŋɡaˈretti]; 8 February 1888 – 2 June 1970) was an Italian modernist poet, journalist, essayist, critic, academic, and recipient of the inaugural 1970 Neustadt  ...more
  • Ah how sweet it is to love!, Happy the man
    3,084
    641

    BirthplaceEast Midlands, Eurasia, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom, Aldwincle

    John Dryden (; 19 August [O.S. 9 August] 1631 – 12 May [O.S. 1 May] 1700) was an English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who was made England's first Poet Laureate in 1668.He is  ...more
  • Selected poems, The Cavalier Poets
    2,754
    568
    Richard Lovelace (pronounced /lʌvlɪs/, homophone of "loveless") (9 December 1617 – 1657) was an English poet in the seventeenth century. He was a cavalier poet who fought on behalf of the king during  ...more
  • Tao Te Ching, The Way and Its Power
    3,393
    718

    BirthplaceHenan, China

    Laozi (UK: ; US: ; Chinese: 老子 Mandarin pronunciation: [làu̯.tsɨ]; literally "Old Master"), also rendered as Lao Tzu ( or ) and Lao-Tze (), was an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer. He is the  ...more
  • Poems of a Mountain Home, A troubled heart & other waka
    2,527
    516

    BirthplaceKyoto, Keihanshin, Japan

    Saigyō Hōshi (西行 法師, 1118 – March 23, 1190) was a famous Japanese poet of the late Heian and early Kamakura period.  ...more
  • Poemas de Wang Wei, The Poetry of Wang Wei
    3,019
    631

    BirthplaceJinzhong, China

    Wang Wei (Chinese: 王維; 699–759) was a Chinese poet, musician, painter, and politician during the Tang dynasty. He was one of the most famous men of arts and letters of his time. Many of his poems  ...more
  • Dirge Without Music, What Lips My Lips Have Kissed and Where and Why
    3,000
    626

    BirthplaceRockland, Maine

    Edna St. Vincent Millay (February 22, 1892 – October 19, 1950) was an American poet and playwright. She received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923, the third woman to win the award for poetry,  ...more

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    #54 of 250 The Best Female Authors of All Time#32 of 250 The Best Gay Authors#18 of 123 The Best American Poets

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List Rules: Vote up the all time best poets