The 222 Greatest Short Poems of All Time

The 111 Greatest Long Poems | Go back to Greatest Poems

This may be the most difficult "greatest" list to determine. Poetry comes in all shapes, styles and sizes—with no one definition of what even constitutes a poem. The appreciation of a poem is more subjective than that of any other literary form. Little consensus exists across critics, academics and poetry lovers.

Also, English-language readers tend to avoid verse originally created in other tongues. Most online lists of the supposed greatest poetry in the world tend to focus on British and American works.

This list aims to be as inclusive as possible. It is the result of consulting experts, anthologies, college lists, reader and critic polls, and reviews from around the world—plus a lot of reading.

The job is far from complete. Corrections and updates are being made continually.

Click on links in the list for commentaries and other information on selected works and writers.

 
BCE
c.2030
A Love Song of Shu-Suen
Anonymous
Sumer
Poem
c.600
Ode to Anactoria
Sappho
Greece
Poem
c.60
Let us live, my Lesbia
Catullus
Rome
Poem
CE
c.750
Quiet Night Thought
Li Bai
China
Poem
1290
Upon a day, came Sorrow into me
Alighieri Dante
Italy
Poem
1599
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
Christopher Marlowe
England
Poem
1624
No Man Is an Island
John Donne
England
Prose
1633
Death, Be Not Proud
John Donne
England
Poem
1648
To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time
Robert Herrick
England
Poem
1673
On His Blindness
John Milton
England
Poem
1678
To My Dear and Loving Husband
Anne Bradstreet
United States
Poem
c.1680
The Fox and the Crow
Jean de La Fontaine
France
Poem
1681
Absalom and Achitophel
John Dryden
England
Poem
 
To His Coy Mistress
Andrew Marvell
England
Poem
1680s
You Foolish Men
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Mexico
Poem
1692
Dream
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Mexico
Poem
1749
Elegy Written in a Churchyard
Thomas Gray
England
Poem
1782
Erlkönig
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Germany
Poem
 
To a Mouse
Scotland
Poem
1786
Ode to Joy
Friedrich Schiller
Germany
Poem
1790
Tam O'Shanter
Scotland
Poem
1791
Sweet Afton
Scotland
Poem
1794
The Tyger
William Blake
England
Poem
 
A Poison Tree
William Blake
England
Poem
 
A Red, Red Rose
Scotland
Song
1795
A Man's a Man for a' That
Scotland
Song
1798
Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey
William Wordsworth
England
Poem
1800
Michael
William Wordsworth
England
Poem
 
The Life Path
Friedrich Hölderlin
Germany
Poem
1801
The Palace of Pleasure
Leigh Hunt
England
Poem
1807
Daffodils
William Wordsworth
England
Poem
 
Ode: Intimations of Mortality
William Wordsworth
England
Poem
 
Character of the Happy Warrior
William Wordsworth
England
Poem
 
The World Is Too Much With Us
William Wordsworth
England
Poem
1808
And did those feet in ancient time
William Blake
England
Poem
 
Apostrophe to the Ocean
George Gordon Byron
England
Poem
1816
Kubla Khan
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
England
Poem
 
On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
John Keats
England
Poem
 
To a Waterfowl
William Cullen Bryant
United States
Poem
1817
Thanatopsis
William Cullen Bryant
United States
Poem
1818
Ozymandias
Percy Byssche Shelley
England
Poem
1819
Ode on a Grecian Urn
John Keats
England
Poem
 
The Infinite
Giacomo Leopardi
Italy
Poem
1819–1824
Don Juan
George Gordon Byron
England
Poem
1820
Cloud, The
Percy Byssche Shelley
England
Poem
 
Ode to the West Wind
Percy Byssche Shelley
England
Poem
 
To a Skylark
Percy Byssche Shelley
England
Poem
 
Ode to a Nightingale
John Keats
England
Poem
 
The Lake
Alphonse de Lamartine
France
Poem
1825
To ***
Alexander Pushkin
Russia
Poem
1829
The Spider and the Fly
Mary Howitt
England
Poem
1834
Abou Ben Adhem
Leigh Hunt
England
Poem
 
The Rhodora
Ralph Waldo Emerson
United States
Poem
1835
The Hermit
Joseph von Eichendorff
Germany
Poem
1837
Borodino
Mikhail Lermontov
Russia
Poem
 
Death of the Poet
Mikhail Lermontov
Russia
Poem
1838
A Psalm of Life
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
United States
Poem
 
Concord Hymn
Ralph Waldo Emerson
United States
Poem
1842
My Last Duchess
Robert Browning
England
Poem
 
Ulysses
Alfred Lord Tennyson
England
Poem
 
Locksley Hall
Alfred Lord Tennyson
England
Poem
1844
Night Thoughts
Heinrich Heine
Germany
Poem
1845
Sweetheart, let’s see if the rose
Pierre de Ronsard
France
Poem
 
The Raven
United States
Poem
1848
Say Not the Struggle Naught Availeth
Arthur Hugh Clough
England
Poem
1849
Annabel Lee
United States
Poem
1850
How Do I Love Thee?
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
England
Poem
 
The Blessed Damozel
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
England
Poem
1851
O Soul, Remember
Eduard Mörike
Germany
Poem
1853
The Scholar Gipsy
Matthew Arnold
Poem
1854
Charge of the Light Brigade
Alfred Lord Tennyson
England
Poem
1855
Evelyn Hope
Robert Browning
England
Poem
1856
Tomorrow, at Dawn
Victor-Marie Hugo
France
Poem
 
Poet and Citizen
Nikolai Nekrasov
Russia
Poem
 
Maud Muller
John Greenleaf Whittier
United States
Poem
 
The Song of Exile
Gonçalves Dias
Brazil
Poem
1858
The Deacon's Masterpiece
Oliver Wendell Holmes
United States
Poem
1860
Paul Revere's Ride
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
United States
Poem
 
The Children's Hour
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
United States
Poem
1861
The Albatross
Charles Baudelaire
France
Poem
1862
Remember
Christina Rossetti
England
Poem
1865
O Captain! My Captain!
Walt Whitman
United States
Poem
1866
You Will Not Grasp Her With Your Mind
Fyodor Tyutchev
Russia
Poem
1867
Neutral Tones
England
Poem
1869
Clair de Lune
Paul Verlaine
France
Poem
1870
The Sleeper in the Valley
Arthur Rimbaud
France
Poem
1871
Jabberwocky
Lewis Carroll
England
Poem
 
The Drunken Boat
Arthur Rimbaud
France
Poem
1873
Red Cotton Night-Cap Country
Robert Browning
England
Poem
1874
The Afternoon of a Faun
Stéphane Mallarmé
France
Poem
1883
The New Colossus
Emma Lazarus
United States
Poem
1887
To Be Born a Man
Adela Zamudio
Bolivia
Poem
1888
Invictus
William Ernest Henley
England
Poem
1889
Crossing the Bar
Alfred Lord Tennyson
England
Poem
1890
London Snow
Robert Bridges
England
Poem
 
Gunga Din
Rudyard Kipling
England
Poem
 
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
W.B. Yeats
Ireland
Poem
 
Because I could not stop for Death
Emily Dickinson
United States
Poem
1891
A Sincere Man Am I
José Marti
Cuba
Poem
 
'Hope' is the thing with feathers
Emily Dickinson
United States
Poem
1892
Vitai Lampada
Henry Newbolt
England
Poem
1896
To an Athlete, Dying Young
A.E. Housman
England
Poem
 
We Wear the Mask
Paul Lawrence Dunbar
United States
Poem
1897
Richard Cory
Edward Arlington Robinson
United States
Poem
 
Reuben Bright
Edward Arlington Robinson
United States
Poem
1899
The Man With the Hoe
Edwin Markham
United States
Poem
1900
The Darkling Thrush
England
Poem
1902
The Man He Killed
England
Poem
1905
The Girl Was Singing In a Church Choir
Alexander Blok
Russia
Poem
1906
The Highwayman
Alfred de Noyes
Poem
1907
The Shooting of Dan McGrew
Robert W. Service
Canada
Poem
1908
Torso of an Archaic Apollo
Rainer Maria Rilke
Germany
Poem
1909
My Country
Ricardo Miro
Panama
Poem
1910
If
Rudyard Kipling
England
Poem
1911
Dusky Veil Shades Her Hands Clenching
Anna Akhmatova
Russia
Poem
1912
The Listeners
Walter de la Mare
England
Poem
 
Renascence
Edna St. Vincent Millay
United States
Poem
1913
Zone
Guillaume Apollinaire
France
Poem
 
These My Poems, Written So Early
Marina Tsvetaeva
Russia
Poem
 
Trees
Joyce Kilmer
United States
Poem
 
Sacred Emily
Gertrude Stein
United States
Poem
1914
Grodek
Georg Trakl
Austria
Poem
 
For the Fallen
Laurence Binyon
England
Poem
 
Listen
Vladimir Mayakovsky
Russia
Poem
 
Mending Wall
Robert Frost
United States
Poem
 
The Death of the Hired Man
Robert Frost
United States
Poem
 
Chicago
Carl Sandburg
United States
Poem
1915
In Flanders Fields
John McCrae
Canada
Poem
 
The Soldier
Rupert Brooke
England
Poem
 
The Dead
Rupert Brooke
England
Poem
 
The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost
United States
Poem
 
Ann Rutledge
Edgar Lee Masters
United States
Poem
 
The Pool
H. D. (Hilda Doolittle)
United States
Poem
1916
Sea-Fever
John Masefield
England
Poem
 
Cargoes
John Masefield
England
Poem
 
Fog
Carl Sandburg
United States
Poem
1917
La Jeune Parque
Paul Valéry
France
Poem
 
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Wallace Stevens
United States
Poem
1918
Suicide in the Trenches
Siegfried Sassoon
England
Poem
 
Spring and Fall
Gerard Manley Hopkins
England
Poem
 
The Windhover
Gerard Manley Hopkins
England
Poem
 
There Will Come Soft Rains
Sara Teasdale
United States
Poem
1919
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
W.B. Yeats
Ireland
Poem
 
Black Messenger
Cesar Vallejo
Peru
Poem
1920
Anthem for Doomed Youth
Wilfred Owen
England
Poem
 
Dulce et Decorum Est
Wilfred Owen
England
Poem
 
The Second Coming
W.B. Yeats
Ireland
Poem
1922
Mother to Son
Langston Hughes
United States
Poem
 
The Emperor of Ice Cream
Wallace Stevens
United States
Poem
1923
Snake
D.H. Lawrence
England
Poem
 
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Robert Frost
United States
Poem
 
Fire and Ice
Robert Frost
United States
Poem
 
The Red Wheelbarrow
William Carlos Williams
United States
Poem
1924
Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines
Pablo Neruda
Chile
Poem
 
Letter to a Woman
Sergei Esenin
Russia
Poem
1925
England
Poem
 
The Weary Blues
Langston Hughes
United States
Poem
1931
Love Is Not All: It Is Not Meat nor Drink
Edna St. Vincent Millay
United States
Poem
1934
Immortality
Clare Harner
United States
Poem
 
The Idea of Order at Key West
Wallace Stevens
Poem
1936
Funeral Blues
W.H. Auden
England
Poem
1938
To Those Born After
Bertolt Brecht
Germany
Poem
1939
Refugee Blues
W.H. Auden
England
Poem
1940
The Unknown Citizen
W.H. Auden
England
Poem
1942
David
Earle Birney
Canada
Poem
 
Liberty
Paul Eluard
France
Poem
1945
Autumn Leaves
Jacques Prévert
France
Poem
 
Death of the Ball Turret Gunner
Randall Jarrell
United States
Poems
 
Elegy Just in Case
John Ciardi
United States
Poem
1945–1962
Middle Passage
Robert Hayden
United States
Poem
1946
The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket
Robert Lowell
United States
Poem
 
Fern Hill
Dylan Thomas
Wales
Poem
1947
Directive
Robert Frost
United States
Poem
1848
If You Forget Me
Pablo Neruda
Chile
Poem
 
Death Fugue
Paul Célan
Romania
Poem
1951
Harlem
Langston Hughes
United States
Poem
 
Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night
Dylan Thomas
Wales
Poem
1952
I carry your heart with me
e.e. cummings
United States
Poem
1953
Deferred Time
Ingeborg Bachmann
Austria
Poem
 
The Waking
Theodore Roethke
United States
Poem
1954
Meditations in an Emergency
Frank O'Hara
United States
Poem
1955
Song for Naomi
Irving Layton
Canada
Poems
1958
I Am Waiting
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
United States
Poem
 
Junkman's Obbligato
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
United States
Poem
1959
Memories of West Street and Lepke
Robert Lowell
United States
Poem
 
We Real Cool
Gwendolyn Brooks
United States
Poem
1961
Babi Yar
Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Russia
Poem
1962
Warning
Jenny Joseph
England
Poem
 
Those Winter Sundays
Robert Hayden
United States
Poem
1963
Sylvia's Death
Anne Sexton
United States
Poems
1965
Daddy
Sylvia Plath
United States
Poem
 
Lady Lazarus
Sylvia Plath
United States
Poem
1966
Digging
Seamus Heaney
Northern Ireland
Poem
 
The Express
Stephen Spender
England
Poem
1968
The Poor
Roberto Sosa
Honduras
Poem
1970
Don’t Leave the Room
Joseph Brodsky
Russia
Poem
1973
Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)
Nikki Giovanni
United States
Poem
 
Diving Into the Wreck
Adrienne Rich
United States
Poem
1974
This Be the Verse
Philip Larkin
England
Poem
1976
One Art
Elizabeth Bishop
United States
Poem
1977
Calderoniana
Efraín Huerta
Mexico
Poem
 
And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name
John Ashbery
United States
Poem
1978
Still I Rise
Maya Angelou
United States
Poem
 
Power
Andre Lorde
United States
Poem
1980
Homage to My Hips
Lucille Clifton
United States
Poem
1981
The Colonel
Carolyn Forché
United States
Poem
1982
Heroics
Julia Alvarez
United States
Poem
1984
Hallelujah
Canada
Song
1985
Mock Orange
Louise Glück
United States
Poem
1986
Love After Love
Derek Walcott
St. Lucia
Poem
1987
To Live in the Borderlands
Gloria Anzaldua
United States
Poem
 
Ancestor
Jimmy Santiago Baco
United States
Poem
1992
Anthem
Canada
Song
 
The Man With the Night Sweats
Thom Gunn
United States
Poem
1994
Blood
Carmen Boullosa
Mexico
Poem
2003
Rain
Claribel Alegria
El Salvador
Poem
 
Errata
Kevin Young
United States
Poem
2010
The Golden Shovel
Terrance Hayes
United States
Poem
2011
Moving
Luis Chaves
Costa Rica
Poem
2012
Balas Chonas
Cherríe Morago
United States
Poem
2013
Rape Joke
Patricia Lockwood
United States
Poem