Greatest English Language Poets


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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.

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.

4Rudyard 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

5Alfred, 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

6William Wordsworth
Great poet. I have read several poems written by him. Including the daffodils&the solitary reaper.
Poet of nature who left tremendous mark on english literate his
Deffodills was a landmark in the literary figures

7T. 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
T.S. Eliot may have not published most of his poems, but he made sure that every poem he published was pure poetic heroine.
[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.

8Gerard 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.

9John McCrae
A great Canadian war time poet.


10Emily Dickinson
Best poet ever! She should be in the top five!

The Contenders

11W. 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.

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.

13Oscar Wilde

14Walt 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!

15Robert 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.

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.

17Philip Larkin
He should be higher in this great list.

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

19Alexander Pope
The best satirist in English Poetry

20John Skelton

21Henry 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

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.

23John Keats

24Robert 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.


26Edmund Spenser
Spenser is the most beautiful English poet. His Epithalamion is the loveliest poem in the language.

27Banjo Paterson

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.

29Edgar 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.

31Geoffrey Chaucer

32Edna St. Vincent Millay

33Lord Byron
Byron was a literary genius. He's one of my heroes, and I could go on and on about him, but I'll let him speak for himself:
"Start not - nor deem my spirit fled;
In me behold the only skull,
From which, unlike a living head,
Whatever flows is never dull."


This is the best poet from England.

34Andrew 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

35Christina Rossetti

36Ezra Pound
Il miglior fabbro as t S Eliot said, such an inspiration to so many

37Thomas More

38Wallace Stevens
The greatest American poet of the last century, whose poems can only get more and more famous.

39Wilfred Owen

40Thomas 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.

41E.E. Cummings

42Christopher Marlowe
He got me interested in poetry after reading his verse plays and has always stayed with me

43Dylan 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

44Matthew 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.

45Sylvia 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!

46William McGonagall
The funniest poet I've ever read Could even claim to be the greatest Scot - he's far better than Burns, for example

47Ted 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.

48John Dryden

49William Dunbar
Probably the greatest Scottish poet, though little read, maybe because his language is too antique and dialectal

50Thomas 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

51Charles Bukowski
Unpretentious but still thought provoking, he speaks the truth. Plus Isaac Brock wrote a really cool song about him...
"If you want to know who your friends are, get yourself a jail sentence. "

52Edward 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

53John Clare
He wrote a huge amount but the few last great poems of solitude are something no other poet has ever reached.

54Isaac 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

55Ben Jonson

56Seamus Heaney
Displays great appreciation for traditional skill and craftsmanship

57John 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.

58William Carlos Williams
I can never forget his poem about stealing food from the fridge

59Sarojini Naidu
After independence she became the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. She was the first woman governor in India.

60John Massey Gawain Poet
I don't think John Massey wrote the Gawain Poem? Nobody knows. But it's an amazing poem all the same

61Stevie Smith

62William Cowper

63Derek Walcott
Walcott is listed as the greatest living poet

64Howard Nemerov
An American classicist... very unusual, and unusually talented. He has a lovely grasp of rhythm too.

65U. 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

66Oliver Goldsmith

67Robert Lowell

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

69Elizabeth 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.

70A. E. Housman
Represents the quintessence of England.

71Maya Angelou

72Sir 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.

73Hart Crane

74Billy Collins

75James Elroy Flecker

76Shel Silverstein

77Dr. Seuss
Laugh out loud whoever voted for this was a dumbass

78Sir Walter Scott

79Mary Sydney

80William Langland

81George Crabbe

82Thomas Wyatt

83John Gower

84Carol Ann Duffy

85Siegfried Sassoon

86William Barnes

87Laurence Binyon

88Rupert Brooke

89William Collins

90Cecil Day-Lewis

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

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This list was created 6 years, 180 days ago and has been voted on over 1,000 times. This top ten list contains 111 items, has been remixed 4 times.

Updated Sunday, April 26, 2015

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