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Thread: The 100 Greatest English Language Poets

  1. #16
    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
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    Samuel Johnson's Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets

    Abraham Cowley
    Sir John Denham
    John Milton
    Samuel Butler (Hudibras)
    John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
    Wentworth Dillon, Earl of Roscommon
    Thomas Otway
    Edmund Waller
    John Pomfret
    Charles Sackville, Earl of Dorset
    George Stepney
    John Philips
    William Walsh
    John Dryden
    Edmund Smith
    Richard Duke
    William King
    Thomas Sprat
    Charles Montague, Earl of Halifax
    Thomas Parnell
    Samuel Garth
    Nicholas Rowe
    Joseph Addison
    John Hughes
    John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham
    Matthew Prior
    William Congreve
    Sir Richard Blackmore
    Elijah Fenton
    John Gay
    George Granville, Lord Lansdown
    Thomas Yalden
    Thomas Tickell
    James Hammond
    William Somervile
    Richard Savage
    Jonathan Swift
    William Broome
    Alexander Pope
    Christopher Pitt
    James Thomson
    Isaac Watts
    Ambrose Philips
    Gilbert West
    William Collins
    John Dyer
    William Shenstone
    Edward Young
    David Mallet
    Mark Akenside
    Thomas Gray
    George Lord Lyttelton
    Last edited by mortalterror; 05-07-2013 at 04:52 PM.
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  2. #17
    King of Dreams MorpheusSandman's Avatar
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    Looking over that list I count 5 poets (out of 50) that are canonized, and a few more that have left behind at least a few significant, remembered works, so that sounds quite close to JBI's 10% of the acclaimed moderns being remembered.
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." --Carl Gustav Jung

    "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due." --Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists

    "I'm on my way, from misery to happiness today. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh" --The Proclaimers

  3. #18
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    Nice list.
    Last edited by Sameer Telkar; 05-09-2013 at 02:39 PM.

  4. #19
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    Notice,only a single poet of the latter half of 20th century.Does this mean that a poet's work is noticed after his death?

  5. #20
    King of Dreams MorpheusSandman's Avatar
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    There are several living poets on the list, though most were born before 1950. I don't think it has to do with only being appreciated after they're dead, but rather poets tend to produce their best work rather late in life, at least into their 40s, but often much later as well. Then you have to factor in the time it takes for critics, readers, and other poets to recognize their work and mutually "settle" on their reputation, which is often the work of several decades.
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." --Carl Gustav Jung

    "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due." --Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists

    "I'm on my way, from misery to happiness today. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh" --The Proclaimers

  6. #21
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    Kipling

    Quote Originally Posted by MorpheusSandman View Post
    Something that's very popular amongst cinephiles and critics is creating "lists" of the greatest films and filmmakers (I think this started with Sight & Sound, but AFI has done it as well, and now we have everything from IMDb, to meta-lists like Theyshootpictures), and I've always wondered why you rarely see such a thing in literature. Anyway, I love making lists, if only because it allows me to clarify my own opinions, so I thought I would make one trying to list the 100 greatest English language poets. Now, this list is an attempt to be as objective as possible, taking things like influence and importance into account instead of my own personal tastes (indeed, there are many poets here I haven't even read, or have only read a few poems from). From about 40 onward I had a great difficult devising the list if only because it's hard to get a solid sense of how important/influential various poets are when compared against others.

    Obviously, any input is welcome, and I'm certainly willing to modify the list (in fact, I've been constantly modifying it the last several days). What I'm really interested in hearing is if anyone can spot any rankings that seem, to them, clearly wrong (ie, a certain poet is ranked much too low/high given their reputation, influence, importance, etc.), or notable exclusions/unworthy inclusions. This was especially difficult when it came to including 20th century and living poets, because, obviously, their reputation isn't nearly as settled and is more volatile. So many of them have to be educated guesses only, but, hey, I regularly see films made within the past 10 years high on the lists of the greatest films made, so I don't see why we can't afford the same privilege to poets.

    Code:
    1	John Milton	1608-1674
    2	William Shakespeare	1564-1616
    3	Geoffrey Chaucer	1343-1400
    4	WB Yeats	1865-1939
    5	William Wordsworth	1770-1850
    6	John Keats	1795-1821
    7	William Blake	1757-1827
    8	TS Eliot	1888-1965
    9	John Donne	1572-1631
    10	Emily Dickinson	1830-1886
    11	Walt Whitman	1819-1892
    12	Alexander Pope	1688-1744
    13	Robert Browning	1812-1899
    14	Wallace Stevens	1879-1955
    15	Percy Blysse Shelley	1792-1822
    16	Lord Byron	1788-1824
    17	Alfred Lord Tennysson	1809-1892
    18	Edmund Spenser	1552-1599
    19	Edgar Allan Poe	1809-1849
    20	WH Auden	1907-1973
    21	Samuel Taylor Coleridge	1772-1934
    22	John Dryden	1631-1700
    23	Ezra Pound	1885-1972
    24	George Herbert	1593-1633
    25	Robert Burns	1759-1796
    26	Andrew Marvell	1621-1678
    27	Thomas Hardy	1840-1928
    28	John Ashbery	1927-
    29	William Langland	1332-1386
    30	Elizabeth Bishop	1911-1979
    31	Pearl Poet	?
    32	Philip Sidney	1554-1586
    33	Gerard Manley Hopkins	1844-1889
    34	Robert Frost	1874-1963
    35	Matthew Arnold	1822-1888
    36	John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester	1647-1680
    37	Beowulf Poet	?
    38	Robert Lowell	1917-1977
    39	Elizabeth Barrett Browning	1806-1861
    40	Christina Rossetti 	1830-1894
    41	James Merrill	1926-1995
    42	Thomas Wyatt	1503-1542
    43	Sylvia Plath	1932-1963
    44	John Clare	1793-1864
    45	Algernon Charles Swinburne	1837-1809
    46	Philip Larkin	1922-1985
    47	John Gower	1330-1408
    48	Ben Johnson	1572-1637
    49	Hart Crane	1899-1932
    50	William Dunbar	1460-?
    51	Geoffrey Hill	1932-
    52	Seamus Heaney	1939-
    53	William Cowper	1731-1800
    54	William Carlos Williams	1832-1963
    55	Henry Wadsworth Longfellow	1807-1882
    56	Thomas Traherne	1636-1674
    57	Adrienne Rich	1929-2012
    58	Wilfred Owen	1893-1918
    59	AE Housman	1859-1936
    60	Thomas Moore	1779-1852
    61	Dylan Thomas	1914-1953
    62	Derek Walcott	1930-
    63	EE Cummings	1896-1962
    64	Marianne Moore	1887-1972
    65	John Berryman	1914-1972
    66	Henry Vaughan	1622-1695
    67	AR Ammons	1926-2001
    68	Anne Finch	1661-1720
    69	WS Merwin	1927-
    70	Dante Gabriel Rossetti	1828-1882
    71	Robert Penn Warren	1905-1989
    72	Allen Ginsberg	1926-1997
    73	Louise Gluck	1943-
    74	Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey	1516-1547
    75	Theodore Roethke 	1908-1963
    76	Felicia Hemans	1793-1835
    77	Thomas Gray	1716-1771
    78	Paul Muldoon	1951-
    79	Thomas Lovell Beddoes	1803-1849
    80	Abraham Cowley	1618-1667
    81	Henry David Thoreau	1817-1862
    82	Jonathan Swift	1667-1745
    83	Ted Hughes	1930-1998
    84	HD	1886-1961
    85	Robinson Jeffers	1887-1962
    86	Christopher Marlowe	1564-1593
    87	Robert Herrick	1592-1674
    88	Edward Arlington Robinson	1860-1935
    89	Richard Crashaw	1613-1649
    90	Carl Sandburg	1878-1967
    91	Langston Hughes	1902-1967
    92	Robert Henryson	1460-1500
    93	Paul Laurence Dunbar	1872-1906
    94	Stephen Crane	1871-1900
    95	Anne Carson	1950-
    96	Louis MacNeice	1907-1963
    97	Anne Bradstreet	1612-1672
    98	John Skelton	1460-1529
    99	Bob Dylan	1941-
    100	Emily Bronte	1818-1848
    One thing I feel compelled to defend immediately is the placing of Milton over Shakespeare, and my defense is simply that Milton was a pure poet, whereas Shakespeare was also a dramatist who even wrote parts of his plays in prose. It's difficult to determine where the poetry in Shakespeare begins and the drama ends, and vice-versa, but it would be just as wrong to only consider Shakespeare's sonnets and narrative poems, or, worse yet, not to include him at all. Plus, Milton wrote in every poetic genre imaginable, including writing the single greatest epic in English, so I felt that alone justified placing him first.
    Have I missed something? Have you really not included Kipling?

  7. #22
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    A list compiled by an ignorant ape, destitute of keen, critical eye!

    It's a terrible list, and very misleading. How can one keep Tennyson so low.
    Last edited by Tauqeer Khan; 10-26-2015 at 08:08 AM.

  8. #23
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    William Blake is too mystic and abscure to be placed among the Top 10. Same is the case with John Keats who produced too little of great quality to be placed among the giants like Eliot, Shakespeare and Milton. John Donne is too mystic, too obscure and too unclear and not at all worthy of being put in the Top 10 of the list. Emily Dickenson lacks variety and depth of thought and is too full of emotions to be placed with Grand-Masters of the art of poetry, completely unworthy of being put in the Top 10. I wonder whether the author of the list is really able to compile such list on the apparent basis of too little knowledge of a very broad subject.

  9. #24
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    You are the second ignorant ape after the actual author of the list, because nearly half of the Top 10 poets of the list are far from being worthy to be ranked such high. If one disagrees with me, it will be a sign of their personal ignorance of the subject, instead of a matter of personal viewpoint. Since I am an academic who cannot stand modern world's ignorance on a subject as crucial as this, I am willing to have a debate with anyone who is ready to defend this list showing immense ignorance of the subject.

  10. #25
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    If I am to compile a list of "10 Greatest English Poets of All Time", it will contain:
    01: John Milton
    02: William Shakespeare
    03: T S Eliot
    04: Alfred Lord Tennysson
    05: Lord Byron
    06: W B Yeats
    07: Robert Browning
    08: Walt Whitman
    09: Alexander Pope
    10: William Wordsworth
    but, if I am to compile a list of "10 Most Influential Poets of All Time", it will contain:
    01: William Shakespeare
    02: John Milton
    03: Geoffrey Chaucer
    04: Alexander Pope
    05: Lord Byron
    06: T S Eliot
    07: William Wordsworth
    08: Edmund Spenser
    09: W B Yeats
    10: Walt Whitman
    Last edited by Tauqeer Khan; 10-26-2015 at 08:42 AM.

  11. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by MorpheusSandman View Post
    There are several living poets on the list, though most were born before 1950. I don't think it has to do with only being appreciated after they're dead, but rather poets tend to produce their best work rather late in life, at least into their 40s, but often much later as well. Then you have to factor in the time it takes for critics, readers, and other poets to recognize their work and mutually "settle" on their reputation, which is often the work of several decades.
    Many great poets wrote great works while they were young

    Keats died at 25
    Rimbaud--37
    Plath--31
    Percy Shelley--30
    Pushkin--38
    Frank O-Hara--40

    among others.

  12. #27
    Ten Greatest poets in the English language:
    1. Shakespeare
    2. Milton
    3. Wordsworth
    4. Keats
    5. Dickinson
    6. Wallace Stevens
    7. Blake
    8. Byron
    9. Eliot
    10. Pound

    Ten Most Influential Poets in the English Language
    1. Shakespeare
    2. Wordsworth
    3. Milton
    4. Whitman
    5. Dickinson
    6. Keats
    7. Byron
    8. Eliot
    9. William Carlos Williams
    10. Pound

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    Smile God help me

    Auden feels way too high on the original list. He lacks a great poem. And Larkin feels too low. I rate him close to the 20th Century's best English-speaking poet. Elizabeth Bishop ranked higher than Robert Lowell, that's a stretch though it doesn't perturb your list much. Milton hmmm. Book I of Paradise Lost, okay. But Shakespeare bent the language into so many shapes; with his linguistic gifts and dramatic imagination it's hard not to see him heading the list.

    Last edited by ms33; 07-23-2019 at 08:41 PM. Reason: gotta dance

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