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The 111 Greatest (Long) Poems

A rule of thumb for the long poems listed here, contrasted with the verse on the Greatest (Short) Poems list, is that these generally cannot be read in a single sitting. They range in length from a dozen dense pages to entire books, even multiple volumes. Reading times that do full justice to the poems can stretch from an hour or two to a lifetime. Long poems also tend to present a complexity of theme and story not found in briefer poetry.

Sometimes it is difficult to differentiate a thick multi-part poem from a collection of discrete poems. For our purposes here, long poems are considered distinct from poetry collections in that its verses are usually connected in an overarching narrative, as in epic poetry. Admittedly though, the categories can overlap and subjective judgments are sometimes needed.

However, this list of long poems 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. The long-available older works have also had time to settle in public and critical valuations.

Still, as with all our other lists, revisions and updates will continue as research and public tastes dictate.

Latest update: March 15, 2024

BCE
c.2100–1200 BCE
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The Epic of Gilgamesh
Babylon, poem
 
The Descent of Inanna
Anonymous
Sumer, poem
c.750
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Iliad
Greece, poem
 
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The Odyssey
Greece, poem
c.700
Theogony
Greece, poem
 
Works and Days
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
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Metamorphoses
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.79
Argonautica
Valerius Flaccus
Rome, poem
c.700
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Beowulf
England, poem
 
The Táin
Anonymous
Ireland, poem

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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.1200
The Nibelungenlied
Anonymous
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, poetry collection
1307
The Divine Comedy
Alighieri Dante
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
1483–1495
Orlando Innamorato
Matteo Maria Boiardo
Italy, poem

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1501
Judita
Marko Marulić
Croatia, poem
1516–1532
Orlando Furioso
Ludovico Ariosto
Italy, poem
1569–1589
The Araucaniad
Alonso Ercilla
Spain, poem
1572
Franciade
Pierre de Ronsard
France, poem
 
The Lusiads
Luis de Camoëns
Portugal, poem
1589
The Faerie Queen
Edmund Spenser
England, poem
1591
Astrophel and Stella
Philip Sidney
England, poem
1613
Solitudes
Luis de Góngora
Spain, poem
1616
Les Tragiques
Agrippa D'Aubigné
France, poem
1667
Paradise Lost
John Milton
England, poem
1671
Samson Agonistes
John Milton
England, poem
1711
An Essay on Criticism
England, poem
1712–1714
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The Rape of the Lock
England, poem
1723
La Henriade
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

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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
1837
The Bronze Horseman
Alexander Pushkin
Russia, poem
1842
Horatius
Thomas Babington Macauley
England, poem
 
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 or, Growth of a Poet's Mind
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, 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, 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

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1914
Platero and I
Juan Ramón Jiménez
Spain, Prose poem
1915
A Cloud in Trousers
Vladimir Mayakovsky
Russia, poem
1918
The Twelve
Alexander Blok
Russia, poem
1930
The Bridge
Hart Crane
United States, poem
1940–1942
Four Quartets
England, poem
1944
Arcanum 17
André Breton
France, poem
1947
The Heights of Macchu Piccu
Pablo Neruda
Chile, poem
 
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
1973
Moscow–Petushki
Venedikt Yerofeyev
Russia, poem
1976–1980
The Changing Light at Sandover
James Merrill
United States, poem
1990
Omeros
Derek Walcott
St. Lucia, poem
2014
Citizen: An American Lyric
Claudia Rankine
United States, poem

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