Top 10 Poets of All Time And Their Famous Quotes

Last Updated on February 22, 2023

Top 10 Poets of All Time And Their Famous Quotes
William Shakespeare

If you are looking for famous poets to add to your reading list, this is for you. This article enlists the top 10 poets of all time and their famous quotes.

1. William Shakespeare (1564–1616, England)

William Shakespeare is arguably the world’s most famous poet and playwright. His works have been translated into every major language, and his plays have been performed more often than those of any other playwright.

His name is practically synonymous with the sonnet, as he wrote 154 of them (and there’s even a particular type of sonnet named for him, the Shakespearean sonnet). His influence can be felt in today’s literature and films, with themes from iconic works like Romeo and Juliet permeating modern romances.

Famous Quote: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

2. Pablo Neruda (1904–1973, Chile)

Pablo Neruda was a famous Chilean poet and one of the most iconic writers of the twentieth century. Also a Chilean senator and diplomat, Neruda won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971.

He began writing at age 13, and among his collection are an epic, numerous love sonnets, odes, and also surrealist works, making him one of the most diverse talents in modern history.

Famous Quote: “To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life.”

3. Maya Angelou (1928–2014, United States)

Maya Angelou was more than a poet—she was also a civil rights activist who spoke of the Black experience in America, particularly that of Black women.

Many of her most celebrated works, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, are considered autobiographical. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, and she was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

Famous Quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

4. Walt Whitman (1819–1892, United States)

His work is said to have influenced Pablo Neruda and countless other greats who followed him. He is best known for his poems that depict nature, love, and sexuality.

Whitman greatly admired Abraham Lincoln, on whose death he wrote “O Captain! My Captain!” and “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.”

Famous Quote: “I no doubt deserved my enemies, but I don’t believe I deserved my friends.”

5. Robert Frost (1874–1963, United States)

Although he is known as one of America’s most beloved and decorated poets (he was the only poet to receive four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry), Frost’s work was initially published in England before it took off in the United States.

Frost was known for his depictions of rural New England life, his skilled use of colloquial speech, and his poems that depicted ordinary people in everyday life.

Famous Quote: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

6. Rumi (1207–1273, Persia)

Born Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī, “Rumi” is the best-selling poet in the United States, and his influence in the Arab world remains even greater.

His poems cover themes of love, religion, and science, and have been studied and admired for centuries by scholars, mystics, philosophers, and priests.

Famous Quote: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.“

7. Emily Dickinson (1830–1886, United States)

While it’s a shame she didn’t gain much recognition during her lifetime, Emily Dickinson’s poems reemerged in the 1930s to become standards of greatness in American (and really, all English) poetry.

She was ahead of her time in her style, which has been categorized by some as Transcendentalist, but is difficult to place under any one genre. Her work, however, is known for its frequent use of humor, puns, irony, and satire.

Famous Quote: “Forever is composed of nows.”

8. T.S. Eliot (1888–1965, United States and England)

T.S. Eliot was a poet, essayist, playwright, literary critic, and editor born in the United States, but who later moved to England, where he published most of his known works and became a British citizen.

Eliot is considered a key figure in Modernist poetry, which was a reaction to the perceived excesses of Victorian poetry. He first gained acclaim for his poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” in 1915, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948.

Famous Quote: “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.“

9. E.E. Cummings (1894–1967, United States)

Although E.E. Cummings studied avant-garde styles and much of his work strays from standards of capitalization and syntax, his poems are quite traditional, with many taking the forms of sonnets with modern twists.

His poems often refelct themes of love, nature, and the relationship between an individual and the rest of the world. Cummings also employed satire in many of his works.

Famous Quote: “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

10. Langston Hughes (1902–1967, United States)

Langston Hughes was one of the earliest innovators of jazz poetry and a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He also wrote plays and short stories.

His works celebrated Black America, while also detailing the hardships and vast inequality suffered by his people. Discover some of Langston Hughes’ best poems.

Famous Quote: “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”

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