Top 10 Best Poems of All Time

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Poetry has existed for millennia. And since those embryonic epic tales, writers of different cultures, peoples, and of all walks of life have together created an art form which spans the complete range of human emotions. By telling transfixing tales, spreading exciting ideas and expressing beauty and awe in the face of the natural world, poetry has never lost its magnetic appeal.

Though they may span many genres with diverse subjects and themes, the best poems are united by a mastery of language, rhythm and meter. The results may illuminate, titillate, entertain, amuse, and inspire.

We may find our own feelings reflected in the words of others, helping us to better understand ourselves. We may find joy in precise and witty wordplay, in tales of ordinary lives and pleasant, unremarkable happenings at last given the appreciation that they deserve.

But there is still firm ground for grand scope and scale, for poems that shake the earth. There are ancient legends, tales of Homeric heroes, but also the sounds of once quiet voices ringing out into the darkness, raging against the dying of the light.

It’s difficult then, given the immense scope and history of this art form, to pin down the best ten. Impossible even. But in our selection below, we’ve endeavoured to cover a broad range of subjects and ideas. Our choices may be famous poems, but that doesn’t change the fact that each of their writers has an unmistakable mastery of their craft. Here’s our list of the top 10 poems of all time.

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

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“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou is a powerful work that celebrates resilience, hope, and perseverance. Through this poem, the author inspires others to overcome adversity and rise above challenges.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou
4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
”Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, ‘tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more.’

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Nameless here for evermore.

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“The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe is a haunting and mysterious work that explores the theme of loss, mourning, and despair. With its vivid imagery and captivating rhythms, this poem remains one of Poe’s most enduring and popular works.

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe
19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same

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“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost is a poignant meditation on life choices and the journey of self-discovery. With its memorable opening lines and vivid imagery, this poem remains one of Frost’s most beloved works.

Robert Frost

Robert Frost
March 26, 1874 - January 29, 1963

O Captain! My Captain!

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

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“O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman is an elegy that mourns the death of President Abraham Lincoln. Through this poem, Whitman pays tribute to the great leader and reflects on the loss and sorrow that followed his passing.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman
31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas is a powerful and moving work that explores the theme of aging and the inevitability of death. Through its urgent and passionate tone, this poem inspires readers to embrace life and cherish every moment.

Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas
27 October 1914 - 9 November 1953

One Art

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

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“One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop is a poignant work that reflects on the art of losing and the acceptance of loss. Through its concise and controlled language, this poem explores the complex emotions that arise from saying goodbye.

Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop
8 February 1911 - 6 October 1979

The Tiger

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?

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“The Tiger” by William Blake is a captivating and powerful work that explores the majesty and ferocity of nature. Through its vivid imagery and dynamic rhythms, this poem celebrates the awe-inspiring beauty of the natural world.

William Blake

William Blake
28 November 1757 - 12 August 1827


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

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“If” by Rudyard Kipling is a work that celebrates the values of courage, self-reliance, and determination. With its memorable opening lines and concise yet powerful message, this poem has become a timeless classic.

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling
30 December 1865 - 18 January 1936

To a Mouse

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,
Has broken nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
What makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

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“To a Mouse” by Robert Burns is a charming and humorous work that reflects on the relationship between humans and nature. Through its vivid imagery and playful rhythms, this poem celebrates the simple joys of life and the beauty of the natural world.

Robert Burns

Robert Burns
25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796

Sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed…

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“Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare is a timeless and beloved work that explores the themes of love and beauty. With its memorable opening lines and elegant language, this poem remains one of Shakespeare’s most enduring and beloved works.

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare
26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616

In conclusion, the “Best Poems of All Time Ever Written” showcases a diverse range of styles, themes, and emotions that have stood the test of time. From Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” to Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise,” these timeless works of poetry offer a glimpse into the human experience and showcase the power of language to express our deepest thoughts and feelings. Each of these 10 poems has earned its place in the pantheon of great literature, and they continue to inspire and move readers today. Whether you’re an experienced reader of poetry or just discovering the genre, these poems are a must-read and a testament to the enduring impact of poetry on our lives.