Greatest English Language Poets


Don't agree with the list? Vote for an existing item you think should be ranked higher or if you are a logged in, add a new item for others to vote on or create your own version of this list.

The Top Ten

William Shakespeare
The really surprising thing is how close number 2 is here... A bit of desperate pleading from the Scottish Nationalists?
Goes without saying surely - what more is there to say? The rest is silence...
Was a walking example of Pure genius
[Newest]Not only is Shakespeare the greatest poet in the English language but he is also the greatest poet who ever lived!

2Robert Burns
I learned it at school.

3Rudyard Kipling
The poem "if" made me love poetry at all
His poems, especially "If", was very inspiring.
I grew up with the Jungle Book and loved the Disney cartoon. And the poem 'If'.
[Newest]His poems are a real source of inspiration

4Gerard Manley Hopkins
His poetry is almost incomparable... I haven't met another who uses words and sound to their fullest possibility as this man does.

5T. S. Eliot
"As things are, and as fundamentally they must always be, poetry is not a career, but a mug's game. No honest poet can ever feel quite sure of the permanent value of what he has written: He may have wasted his time and messed up his life for nothing. "
Gotta be in the top 10 as the best American and British poet of the last century
When T.S. eliot died, wrote Robert Giroux, "the world became a lesser place. "
[Newest]With a talent that could move the century, it's quite obvious that he had to be in the pantheon of great poets. A Sublime Genius.

When you consider that Keats died at age twenty five, his genius is magnified. If you can write ten immortal poems in a long life, you have achieved quite a lot. Keats' Odes are among the best poetry ever written. If you want to recommend one poet, he is the one that touched the pinnacle of grace and art.
John keats's offerings to english poetry is great that it made the section very much attractive in all areas.
Keats is an example of a great genius and talent. his odes are those epic milestones that shall live immortally till the whole ship of literature submerges.
[Newest]Keats could express the sublime. There are many examples of rather pedestrian verse, but his brave brilliance created, in many instances, the most thought provoking and inspirational verse ever written.

7Alfred, Lord Tennyson
A number of phrases from Tennyson's work have become commonplaces of the English language, including "Nature, red in tooth and claw", "'Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all", "Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die", "My strength is as the strength of ten, / Because my heart is pure", "Knowledge comes, but Wisdom lingers", and "The old order changeth, yielding place to new". He is the ninth most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.
Most melodious of all the poets in English, and the greatest for me at dealing with grief and doubt about the meaning of things in life
How can he be so low down the list?
[Newest]He had the best sense of music

8Emily Dickinson
Best poet ever! She should be in the top five!

9John McCrae
A great Canadian war time poet.


10W. H. Auden
Greatest English poet of the twentieth century ad still a massive influence. No-one can use an adjectival phrase quite the same nowadays
Yes, greatest English poet of the 20th century. And very entertaining.

The Contenders

11William Wordsworth
Poet of nature who left tremendous mark on english literate his
Deffodills was a landmark in the literary figures
Great poet. I have read several poems written by him. Including the daffodils&the solitary reaper.

12Walt Whitman
I experience as deep a spiritual connection reading Whitman aloud as I have with any poet I've encountered so far.
Whitman should be higher.
Free verse, say what's on your mind!

13Robert Frost
At the time of his death in January, 1963, Frost had achieved a degree of fame unequaled by any modern American poet. He was not merely a celebrated writer but a public figure who seemed to embody a certain native national wisdom. In front of television cameras, radio microphones, or crowded lecture halls, Frost played with poised perfection the role of the philosophical farmer-poet. His appearance at John Kennedy's 1961 Presidential inauguration still ranks as the most famous public appearance in the history of American literature.

14Philip Larkin
He should be higher in this great list.

The Father of English poetry, still illusive and ironic - laughing at humanity
Geoffrey Chaucer is remembered as the author of Canterbury Tales, which ranks as one of the greatest epic works of world literature.

16John Skelton

Totally versatile and should be here as his genius spanned so many different styles
Language at its very best, at times, magical
The specific made universal

18John Keats

19Robert Browning
But a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for? - Browning draws characters and expresses complex human emotions so beautifully.

My wife and I had an outstanding Milton scholar as a professor in college. He started out the course by acknowledging that most people consider Shakespeare, Milton and Chaucer as the greatest writers in the English language. By the end of the course, he said he hoped we might consider Milton THE greatest of the three. And, by the end of Paradise Lost, we were convinced.


Paradise Lost is the single, most essential poem in the English language. Milton (more than Shakespeare, even) establishes the very idea of what it means to be a serious poet in the modern world.
€"The mind is its own place,
And in itself can make a heaven of hell,
A hell of heaven. "
John Milton, Paradise Lost
[Newest]The greatest English poet after Shakespeare is Milton for sure. Paradise Lost says it all.

21Oscar Wilde

22Banjo Paterson

23Edna St. Vincent Millay

24Geoffrey Chaucer

Never seek to tell thy love,
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind does move
Silently, invisibly.

I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart;
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears,
Ah! She did depart!

Soon as she was gone from me,
A traveller came by,
Silently, invisibly
He took her with a sigh.

26Edgar Allan Poe
Why is he not higher up? I love this guy!
The Raven is Fantastic, great rhyming and truly very intellegent.
Shakespeare is way to overrated! Edgar is a poet that knew ow to express his opinions by using such a colorful language and text

I loved his poems as a teenager and their music has never really left me. Another one who died too young.
I think the English still have not forgiven Shelley for his anti-patriotic antics. He should be in the top 3.
Shelley remains so underrated, his work has no equal in my mind.

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
Is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
Is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
Well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
Own were; any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
The bell tolls; it tolls for the.

29Andrew Marvell
In an era that makes a better claim than most upon the familiar term transitional, Andrew Marvell is surely the single most compelling embodiment of the change

30Lord Byron
This is the best poet from England.


32Christina Rossetti

33Thomas More

34Ezra Pound
Il miglior fabbro as t S Eliot said, such an inspiration to so many

35Wallace Stevens
The greatest American poet of the last century, whose poems can only get more and more famous.

36Wilfred Owen

37Christopher Marlowe
He got me interested in poetry after reading his verse plays and has always stayed with me

38Thomas Gray
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

39E.E. Cummings

40Dylan Thomas
That�'s because of him that we know Mr. Bob Dylan. See Anthony Hopkins reading Dylan Thomas on YouTube...
No one wrote about the frailty of the human condition like Dylan Thomas. Should be at the top of this list not No.49

41Matthew Arnold
Dover Beach is a poetic masterpiece. Maybe one poem doesn't make the poet, but nevertheless "Dover Beach" is far above the other Victorian works.

42Sylvia Plath
The woman was a genius, beyond comparrsion. Her poetry was unique. Modern, yet with class. Her or Robert Frost should be number 1. With Shakespeare and Yeats second and third!

43Ted Hughes
The best writer about animals in the English language.

A much better poet than his ex-wife though she seems to get all the attention because of her mental problems.

44John Dryden

45William Dunbar
Probably the greatest Scottish poet, though little read, maybe because his language is too antique and dialectal

46Thomas Hardy
He wasn't just a novelist - he also wrote some of the most tragic poems in English - and they are great achievements in their own right

47William McGonagall
The funniest poet I've ever read Could even claim to be the greatest Scot - he's far better than Burns, for example

48Charles Bukowski

49Edward Thomas
Thomas's poems are noted for their attention to the English countryside and a certain colloquial style. A short poem of Thomas's serves as an example of how he blends war and countryside throughout his poetry.
Andrew Motion puts him in the top ten.
His genius was blown to pieces

50Alexander Pope
The best satirist in English Poetry

51John Clare
He wrote a huge amount but the few last great poems of solitude are something no other poet has ever reached.

52Isaac Rosenberg
Brought the vernacular into poetry - much more readable than Owen, and has a deeper, more lasting effect
A voice for Israel in poetry

Dies before his time

Way ahead of his time too

53Edmund Spenser
Spenser is the most beautiful English poet. His Epithalamion is the loveliest poem in the language.

54Ben Jonson

55Seamus Heaney
Displays great appreciation for traditional skill and craftsmanship

56John Betjeman
Comic poets are far too far down this list. Poetry isn't just about feeling sombre. JB is among the very best of chucklers.

57William Carlos Williams
I can never forget his poem about stealing food from the fridge

58Sarojini Naidu
After independence she became the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. She was the first woman governor in India.

59John Massey Gawain Poet
I don't think John Massey wrote the Gawain Poem? Nobody knows. But it's an amazing poem all the same

60Stevie Smith

61William Cowper

62Derek Walcott
Walcott is listed as the greatest living poet

63Howard Nemerov
An American classicist... very unusual, and unusually talented. He has a lovely grasp of rhythm too.

64U. A. Fanthorpe
Underrated but really has a great way of looking at things and a surprising and novel way of expressing it and her reputation will hopefully rise

65Oliver Goldsmith

66Robert Lowell

Gotta be given some kudos for being the first... Guess he never realized what things would lead to

68Elizabeth Bishop
Her poetry poses interesting questions which is notably intriguing and she uses a conversational tone in many of her poems with contributes to her uniqueness as a poet. She offers a wide range of themes-all with similar stylistic features, hich proves in itself the talent she possessed.

69A. E. Housman
Represents the quintessence of England.

70Maya Angelou

71Sir Philip Sidney
"How violently rumours do blow the sails of popular judgments, and
How few there be that can discern between truth and truth-likeness,
Between shows and substance. "
An inspiration and not just in terms of his verse... Who knows what he might have done had he not died so young.

72Hart Crane

73Billy Collins

74James Elroy Flecker

75Shel Silverstein

76Dr. Seuss
Laugh out loud whoever voted for this was a dumbass

77Sir Walter Scott

78Mary Sydney

79William Langland

80George Crabbe

81Thomas Wyatt

82John Gower

83Carol Ann Duffy

84Siegfried Sassoon

85William Barnes

86Laurence Binyon

87Rupert Brooke

88William Collins

89Cecil Day-Lewis

90Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Any one reads Psalm Of Life"Life of great men all remind us we can make ourlife sublme and departing leave behind us footprints on the and of time

91Louis MacNiece

92John Masefield

93Adrian Henri
The best of the Mersey Beat poets - the only one with a real sense for poetry - Tonight at Noon for example

94Thom Gunn

95Ogden Nash
A master of light, whimsical, and sometimes nonsensical verse
Consider the auk;
Becoming extinct because he forgot how to fly, and could only walk.
Consider man, who may well become extinct
Because he forgot how to walk and learned how to fly before he thinked.

96Charles Simic

97Peter Porter

98Leonard Cohen
Simply amazing lyrics and poetry. he's not the best of all time but deserves to be a little higher.

99Khalil Gibran

100Langston Hughes

Comments About This List

Featured Lists
Popular Lists
New Lists

Top Remixes of This List




Posts About This List

List Info

This list was created 6 years, 126 days ago and has been voted on over 1,000 times. This top ten list contains 111 items, has been remixed 3 times.

Updated Tuesday, March 03, 2015

List Error Reporting

See an item on this list that's misspelled, duplicated, or doesn't belong? Let us know. Click here to report the error.