Poetry can be dated back as early as the 23rd century BCE, almost 4,000 years ago! And ever since then, we have been fascinated by poems, creating, reading, and analyzing them. It evokes imaginative awareness, creating emotions, meaning, rhythm and sound only through the English language.
Poetry is some of the greatest works of literature to exist, and here are the top 27 English poets that you need to know. These English poets have created some of the greatest pieces of literature in history.
1. Edgar Allen Poe
“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”
Edgar Allan Poe revolutionized English literature, known as one of the most distinguished writers of the 19th century. Inspired by the world around him, most of Poe’s work was based on murder, insanity, and pain.
Poem to check out: “The Raven”
2. William Shakespeare
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day”
While a lot of his acclaim comes from his plays, Shakespeare wrote many poems that changed literature forever. He wrote about love and life, and his works allow him to be considered the greatest writer of all time.
Poem to check out: “Sonnet XVIII”
3. Maya Angelou
“But still, like air, I’ll rise”
Maya Angelou, poet, activist, and biographer, is known for her works about racism, struggles, and discrimination. She worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. on his civil rights organization and helped to change the world we live in several ways.
Poem to check out: “On the Pulse of Morning”
4. Emily Dickinson
“Hope is the thing with feathers"
Despite receiving little recognition during her time, Emily Elizabeth Dickinson later went on to play a prominent role in English literature and poetry. Her bold and haunting poetry is what put her on the map, and has kept her remembered for so many years.
Poem to check out: "I'm Nobody!"
5. Shel Silverstein
“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the wonts"
Silversteen was an incredible and memorable poet best known for his children's works. His books span continents and have sold millions of copies, playing an important role in many childhoods. We're sure you have read at least one of his works when you were a kid too!
Poem to check out: "The Giving Tree"
6. Robert Frost
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference"
Known for his themes of despair and hardships, Frost is another one of the most famous English poets that you will love. He also discussed the experience of living a rural life, his realistic portrayals of life making his poems so much better.
Poem to check out: "The Gift Outright"
7. Pablo Neruda
"Tonight I can write the saddest lines"
This Chilean poet is famous for both his story and life, as well as poems about love and politics that reflect this. He was one of the most important Latin American poets of his time and changed literature in many ways. He even won a Nobel Prize in Literature.
Poem to Check out: "Don't Be Far Off"
8. E. E. Cummings
"Life's not a paragraph and death I think is no parenthesis"
A pioneer in the literature world, E.E. Cummings was another one of the most famous English poets. He was known for his imaginative and unconventional works. He finally gained great acclaim after self-publishing most of his works.
Poem to check out: "I carry your heart with me"
9. Walt Whitman
"And your very flesh shall be a great poem"
Famous English poet and journalist Walter Whitman is known for his contributions to the shift between transcendentalism and realism, combining both perspectives into his writings.
Poem to check out: "I Hear America Singing”
10. Thomas Hardy
"And yet to every bad, there is a worse"
Thomas Hardy, a famous English poet, and writer is best known for his highly graphic books on the inevitability of human fate. His compositions are set against a rural backdrop that serves as both an elegy for disappearing country ways and a source of much-needed comedic relief.
Poem to check out: "The Ruined Maid"
11. Oscar Wilde
"The truth is rarely pure and never simple"
Famous English poet Oscar Wilde is another one of the most popular writers that you need to check out. His humor, realism, complex characters, and social and political commentary resulted in plays that have lasted and are still enjoyed today.
Poem to check out: "The Ballad of Reading Gaol"
12. John Keats
"A thing of beauty is a joy forever"
John Keats was a famous English poet, noted for his vivid imagery and strong sensual appeal. His short-lived career ended after his death at the age of 25, however, he was able to influence many after him.
Poem to check out: "Ode to a Nightingale"
13. Sylvia Plath
"Is there no way out of the mind?"
Sylvia Plath, acknowledged as one of the finest postwar poets of the twentieth century, is another famous English poet to check out right now. Her work discussed many of her struggles, including mental illness, death, self-harm, and more. She ultimately took her own life when she was 30, but made an impact that lasted decades after her.
Poem to check out: "Lady Lazarus"
14. William Wordsworth
"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart"
Discussing topics such as nature, culture, and humanity, this famous English poet is another great influence on literature. His work contributed to ushering in the Romantic Era in Literary studies.
Poem to check out: "The Prelude"
15. Mark Twain
"Lies, damned lies, and statistics"
"Father of American literature" Mark Twain is another famous English poet, writing including humor and detail to create a memorable piece of literature. His works are must-reads for anybody.
Poem to check out: "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"
16. Lewis Carroll
"Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle"
Famous English poet Lewis Carroll has been noted for his fantasy, reason, and wit. His work has been read and discussed for years after him, and we're sure that you will love it.
Poem to check out: "Jabberwocky"
17. W.B. Yeats
"The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity"
William Butler Yeats was a famous English poet, playwright, and writer who was regarded as among the most important personalities in twentieth-century writing. He was a stalwart of the Irish literary community, helping to develop the Abbey Theatre and serving two terms as a Senator of the Irish Free State in his elderly years.
Poem to check out: “The Second Coming”
18. Dante Alighieri
"All hope abandon, ye who enter here!"
The famous poet Dante is one of the oldest poets on this list, living in the 1200s. Contributing to the development of humanism, his methods of writing made a long-lasting impact on the world.
Poem to check out: “Divine Comedy”
19. Ezra Pound
"With one day’s reading, a man may have the key in his hands"
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was a famous English poet and writer from Italy throughout Second World War. He was a prominent player in the early modernist poetry movement. Pound urged poets to draw inspiration from modern art, experimenting with dramatic new color combinations in his writings.
Poem to check out: "In a Station of the Metro"
"What is beautiful is good, and who is good will soon be beautiful"
Born in Greece, Sappho's lyrical poetry is another prominent part of shaping literature now. Written in the first person, she discussed domestic life, love, and family through her works.
Poem to check out: "Sappho 31”
21. Li Bai
"The birds have vanished into the sky and now the last cloud drains away"
Writing about the freshness of the mind, companionship, seclusion, the passing of time, and the delights of nature, Li Bai was another prominent figure in literature today. His poetry was considered great then and still is now.
Poem to check out: "Quiet Night Thought"
22. Jalal al-Din Rumi
"Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion"
Famous for his lyrics and bright writing, Rumi played an important role in the world today. Born centuries ago, his work is still remembered and celebrated even now, which is a major accomplishment.
Poem to check out: "A Moment Of Happiness"
23. Ted Hughes
"What happens in the heart, simply happens"
Hughes’s poetry is often filled with vivid imagery and harsh messages, making his work unique and special. He also wrote a lot about nature, modernism, and man-made events.
Poem to check out: "There is no better way to know us"
24. Lord Byron
"I awoke one morning and found myself famous"
Byron is recognized as one of the finest English poets and was a key role in the Romantic movement. His works and charisma captivated the beauty of Europe, and his realism and satire made him more famous.
Poem to check out: "Don Juan"
25. Christina Rossetti
"My heart is like a singing bird"
This famous English poet is known for her romantic works and her children's poetry. As one of the most well-known writers from the Victorian age, she is still celebrated for her influence.
Poem to check out: "Goblin Market"
"Words empty as the wind are best left unsaid"
Despite questions on whether Homer was real or not, this poet from the 9th or 8th century BCE was another influential figure in creating literature itself. He's famous for his works that had a massive impact on Western culture and understanding it.
Poem to check out: "The Iliad and The Odyssey"
27. Audre Lorde
"Your silence will not protect you"
The last famous English poet on this list is Audre Lorde, considered as a "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet", discussing topics like sexism, racism, inequalities, and other forms of discrimination. Her work has inspired many and made a massive change.
Poem to check out: "Coal and The Black Unicorn"
These are our picks for the best and most famous English poets, spanning centuries, countries, themes, and inspirations. Literature is always changing, and these people played a prominent role in getting it to where it is right now.
They have never been forgotten, and hopefully, they never will! Comment below your favorite poems by these writers.
Also, like and share this list of famous English poets with the lit lovers.
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