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The Greatest Works of Poetry

Greatest Short Poems | Greatest Long Poems | Greatest Poetry Collections

A rule of thumb for the long poems listed here, contrasted with the poetry on the Greatest Short Poems list, is that they generally cannot be read in a single sitting. They range in length from more than a dozen dense pages to entire books, even multiple volumes. Reading times stretch from a couple of hours to a lifetime.

Long poems also tend to present a complexity of theme and story not found in briefer poetry.

They are also distinct from poetry collections in that verses are usually connected in an overarching narrative, especially in epic poetry. Admittedly though, these categories overlap and in some cases it can be difficult to distinguish them.

Yet, this list is a little easier to compile than that of short poems. Epics and other extended verse have been out of fashion for many years now, so there are fewer recent works to weigh. Plus, the long-available older works have had time to settle in public and critical valuations.

Still, revisions and updates will continue as research and public discourse dictate.

Latest update: July 26, 2022

The 111 greatest long poems of all time

BCE
c.2100–1200
Babylon
Poem
 
The Descent of Inanna
Anonymous
Sumer
Poem
c.750
Greece
Poem
 
Greece
Poem
c.700
Greece
Poem
 
Greece
Poem
c.600 BCE–200 CE
Ramayana
Valmiki
India
Poem
c.400 BCE–400 CE
Mahabharata
Vyasa Vyasa
India
Poem
c.270–240
Aetia
Callimachus
Greece
Poem
c.250
Voyage of the Argonauts
Apollonius of Rhodes
Greece
Poem
c.50
On the Nature of Things
Lucretius
Rome
Didactic poem
29 BCE
Georgics
Virgil
Rome
Poem
c.29-19E
Aeneid
Virgil
Rome
Poem
c. 10
Art of Love
Rome
Poem in three books
CE
c.8
The Book of Days
Rome
Poem in six books
c.8
Rome
Poem
c.500
Hero and Leander
Musaeus Grammaticus
Greece
Poem
 
The Tale of an Anklet
Iḷaṅkõ Aṭikaḷ
India
Poem
61–65
Pharsalia
Lucan
Rome
Poem
c.700
England
Poem
977–1010
The Book of Kings
Ferdowsi
Persia
Poem
c.1000–1300
The Poetic Edda
Anonymous
Iceland
Poem
c.1100
The Song of Roland
Anonymous
France
Poem
c.1100–1250
Volsungsaga
Anonymous
Iceland
Poem
c.1140
The Poem of the Cid
Anonymous
Spain
Poem
c.1140-50
King Rother
Anonymous
Germany
Poem
c.1177–1181
Launcelot
Chrétien de Troyes
France
Poem
1181-1190
Perceval
Chrétien de Troyes
France
Poem
c.1200
The Nibelungenlied
Anonymous
Germany
Poem
c.1200–1210
Parzival
Wolfram von Eschenbach
Germany
Poem
1210
Tristan und Isolde
Gottfied von Strassburg
Germany
Poem
1230–1275
The Romance of the Rose
Guillaume de Lorris, Jean de Meun
France
Poem
c.1250
The Saga of Burnt Njal
Anonymous
Iceland
Poem
 
Mathnawi
Rumi
Persia
Poem
1258
The Garden
Saadi Shirazi
Persia
Poem
1307
The Divine Comedy
Alighieri Dante
Italy
Poem
1327–1368
Il Canzoniere
Francesco Petrarch
Italy
Poem
c.1350
Divan of Hafez
Hafez
Persia
Poem
1352
The Triumphs
Giovanni Boccaccio
Italy
Poem
1362
The Vision of Piers the Ploughman
William Langland
England
Poem
c.1380
Pearl
Anonymous
England
Poem
c.1382–1386
Troilus and Cressida
Geoffrey Chaucer
England
Poem
1387
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Anonymous
England
Poem
c.1387–1400
The Canterbury Tales
Geoffrey Chaucer
England
Prose and poetry
1483—1495
Orlando Innamorato
Matteo Maria Boiardo
Italy
Poem
1501
Judita
Marko Marulić
Croatia
Poem
1516–1532
Orlando Furioso
Ludovico Ariosto
Italy
Poem
1517
The Tunnyng of Elynour Rummyng
John Skelton
England
Poem
1569–1589
The Araucaniad
Alonso Ercilla
Spain
Poem
1572
Franciade
Pierre de Ronsard
France
Poem
 
The Lusiads
Luis de Camoëns
Portugal
Poem
1575
Jerusalem Delivered
Torquato Tasso
Italy
Poem
1589
The Faerie Queen
Edmund Spenser
England
Poem
1591
Astrophel and Stella
Philip Sidney
England
Poem
1613
Solitudes
Luis de Góngora
Spain
Poem
1667
Paradise Lost
John Milton
England
Poem
1671
Samson Agonistes
John Milton
England
Poem
1711
An Essay on Criticism
England
Poem
1712–1714
England
Poem
1723
La Henriade
François-Marie Arouet de Voltaire
France
Poem
1728–1742
The Dunciad
England
Poem
1785
The Task
William Cowper
England
Poem
c. 1792
The Epic of Manas
Anonymous
Kyrgys
Poem
1797
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
England
Poem
1805
The Lay of the Last Minstrel
Walter Scott
Scotland
Poem
1810
The Lady of the Lake
Walter Scott
Scotland
Poem
1812–1818
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
George Gordon Byron
England
Poem
1818
Endymion
John Keats
England
Poem
1819–1824
Don Juan
George Gordon Byron
England
Poem
1820
Prometheus Unbound
Percy Byssche Shelley
England
Poem
 
Ruslan and Ludmila
Alexander Pushkin
Russia
Poem
1822
The Vision of Judgment
George Gordon Byron
England
Poem
1823
The Fountain of Bakhchisaray
Alexander Pushkin
Russia
Poem
1824
Julian and Maddalo
Percy Bysshe Shelley
England
Poem
1825
Boris Godunov
Alexander Pushkin
Russia
Poem
1825–1832
Eugene Onegin
Alexander Pushkin
Russia
Poem
1834
Master Thaddeus
Adam Mickiewicz
Poland
Poem
1835–1849
Kalevala
Elias Lönnrot
Poland
Poem
1836
Máj
Karel Hynek Mácha
Czech
Poem
1842
The Demon
Mikhail Lermontov
Russia
Poem
1847
Evangeline
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
United States
Poem
1850
Christmas-Eve and Easter-Day
Robert Browning
England
Poem
 
In Memoriam
Alfred Lord Tennyson
England
Poem
 
The Prelude
William Wordsworth
England
Poem
1853–1862
Kalev's Son
Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald
Estonia
Poem
1855
The Song of Hiawatha
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
United States
Poem
1856
Aurora Leigh
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
England
Poem
1862
Goblin Market
Christina Rossetti
England
Poem
1868–1869
The Ring and the Book
Robert Browning
England
Poem
 
The Songs of Maldoror
Comte de Lautréamont
France
Prose poem
1870–1881
The House of Life
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
England
Poem
1872–1879
Martín Fierro
José Hernández
Argentina
Poem
1873
A Season in Hell
Arthur Rimbaud
France
Prose poem
1876
The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs
William Morris
England
Poem
1897
The Ballad of Reading Gaol
Oscar Wilde
Ireland
Poem
1914
Platero and I
Juan Ramón Jiménez
Spain
Prose poem
1915
A Cloud in Trousers
Vladimir Mayakovsky
Russia
Poem
1917
La Jeune Parque
Paul Valéry
France
Poem
1918
The Twelve
Alexander Blok
Russia
Poem
1922
England
Poem
1930
The Bridge
Hart Crane
United States
Poem
1940–1942
Four Quartets
England
Poem
1946–1958
Paterson
William Carlos Williams
United States
Poem
1947
The Age of Anxiety
W.H. Auden
England
Poem
1949
The Anniad
Gwendolyn Brooks
United States
Poem
1956
Howl
Allen Ginsberg
United States
Poem
1957
Sunstone
Octavio Paz
Mexico
Poem
1961
Kaddish
Allen Ginsberg
United States
Poem
1966
Song of Lawino
Okot p'Bitek
Uganda
Poem
1976–1980
The Changing Light at Sandover
James Merrill
United States
Poem
1990
Omeros
Derek Walcott
St. Lucia
Poem