Greatest English Language Poets

The Top Ten

1 William Shakespeare William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist.

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

Was a walking example of Pure genius. He is the king of poem and the best poet. His poems make us realize a fresh feeling of nature or the theme of the poem. Really the king of poem!

2 Robert Burns

My love is like a red red rose. Best poem of its kind!

I learned it at school.

#2? Are you kidding?

Worst poet.

3 William Wordsworth William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850) was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with their joint publication Lyrical Ballads (1798).

Great poet. I have read several poems written by him. Including the daffodils&the solitary reaper.

He is the greatest poet of nature.

My favorite poem is daffodils

A truly beautiful and immortal poet.

4 John Milton John Milton (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674) was an English poet, polemicist, man of letters, and civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), written in ...read more.

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.

The only English poet who can be mentioned in the same breath with Dante. As a pure poet (excluding Shakespeare ) should probably be first even if he hadn't written Paradise Lost while blind and in prison. To not list him at all invalidates list.

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.

Milton is unrivalled not only in English literature, but also in the world literature from time immemorial. Milton hath surpassed Homer, Virgil, Ovid and many other poets whom mankind ever came across. Milton's name rings in the mind of greatest scholars of the world, while Shakespeare's of general public and also scholars.

5 Emily Dickinson Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet . Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts . ...read more.

Amazing concision. Cognitively complex and methodologically innovative. Her work remains fresh. Just reading the poems, with no other information, it'd be difficult to place them in a particular time. Most of the poems are not difficult. Many that are difficult will usually reward the additional effort.

Best poet ever! She should be in the top five!

6 Gerard Manley Hopkins

I think Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of the top three poets in the English language. His "Terrible Sonnets" do a better job describing depression than any psychologist can.

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

Such a magestic touch with that sing-song cadence.

7 Walt Whitman Walter "Walt" Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called ...read more.

I experience as deep a spiritual connection reading Whitman aloud as I have with any poet I've encountered so far.

The last of the ecstatics. No one like him--before or since.

Whitman should be higher.

Free verse, say what's on your mind!

8 Edmund Spenser Edmund Spenser (1552/1553 – 13 January 1599) was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognized as one of the premier craftsmen of nascent Modern English verse, and is often considered one of the ...read more.

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

9 Percy Bysshe Shelley Percy Bysshe Shelley (4 August 1792 – 8 July 1822) was one of the major English Romantic poets, and is regarded by some as among the finest lyric, as well as epic, poets in the English language.

While most poets in this list are astounding, I don't think someone could ever outdo Shelley. There was something divine in his words, something no one could achieve.

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.

10 T. S. Eliot Thomas Stearns Eliot, OM, (26 September 1888 – 4 January 1965) was an American-born British essayist, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic, and one of the 20th century's major poets.

"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.

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.

The Contenders

11 Alfred Tennyson Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS (6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892) was Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular British poets.

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

He had the best sense of music

How can he be so low down the list?

12 Keats

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.

Some of the English scholars believe that I keats died at the age of 50. He had the ability to cross the Shakespeare

13 Robert Frost Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was one of the most popular and critically respected American poets of the 20th century, he was honored frequently during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry.

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.

My favorite poem is road not taken

His poems are good but not better than the poems of Roald Dahl.I wish Roald was also on the list.

He is one of the best romantic poets of the world.
Unfortunately his life was really critical. His dad died of tuberculosis. An American poet.
A great poet who received 4 Pulitzer Awards.
On January 29, 1963, Frost died from complications related to prostate surgery.

14 Lord Byron George Gordon Byron (later Noel), 6th Baron Byron, FRS, (22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824), commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was an Anglo-Scottish poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement.

This is the best poet from England.

He is the most profound & original of all the English poets - a poet soaked to the marrow n d eternal & incurable pain of existence. England has failed to appreciate him.

15 Rudyard Kipling Joseph Rudyard Kipling (December 30, 1865 – January 16, 1936) was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in India, which inspired much of his work. ...read more.

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'.

His poems are a real source of inspiration

16 Philip Larkin

He should be higher in this great list.

17 W. 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.

His reputation gets bigger and bigger.

Time will tell...

18 John McCrae

A great Canadian war time poet.

19 Yeats

Totally versatile and should be here as his genius spanned so many different styles

To think that Yeats is below others is something that shows he still has an audience that has to hear his magic.

What has happened to critical judgment? After Shakespeare alone comes Yeats

The specific made universal

20 Chaucer

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.

21 John Dryden
22 John Keats John Keats (31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821) was an English Romantic poet. He was one of the main figures of the second generation of Romantic poets, along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, despite his work having been in publication for only four years before his death.
23 Edgar Allan Poe Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States and American ...read more.

Why is he not higher up? I love this guy!

Shakespeare is way to overrated! Edgar is a poet that knew ow to express his opinions by using such a colorful language and text

The Raven is Fantastic, great rhyming and truly very intellegent.

Edgar Allan Poe was and is personally very important to me as a reader and aspiring writer. I have been obsessed with his short stories and poems since sixth grade and he is still one of my favorite literary figures. His was the first biography I read.

---Angela S.

24 Edna St. Vincent Millay
25 Banjo Paterson
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