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The ten greatest poets of all time

The ten greatest poets of all time


Who’s your favorite poet? It could be somebody who is not on this listing. Poetry, very like music, speaks to one thing very private in us, and it may be laborious to outline why we love the poetry we do. With that in thoughts, we have compiled an inventory of poets whose work has withstood the take a look at of time and, in some circumstances, has even modified the path of literature altogether. Listed here are our high ten.

1. Alfred Lord Tennyson

The person behind ‘The Woman of Shalott’, ‘The Cost of the Gentle Brigade’ amongst many classics, Alfred Lord Tennyson is extensively thought-about to be the granddaddy of Victorian poetry. Born in 1809 to a household of minor landowning standing, he began writing poetry in his childhood, and in 1850 succeeded William Wordsworth as Poet Laureate, a place he held till his loss of life, greater than 40 years later. In that point, he wrote a heck of a number of poetry, using a variety of kinds and masking themes as assorted as rustic life, mythology, science and faith. One unifying attribute of Tennyson’s work, nevertheless, was its sense of musicality, which helps to clarify why so many composers – from Charles Stanford to Olivier Messiaen to Charles Ives – have tried their hand at setting it.

2. T.S. Eliot

In distinction to Tennyson, Thomas Stearns Eliot wrote comparatively few poems for a poet of his standing. Keenly conscious of this himself, the Anglo-American poet as soon as wrote to certainly one of his former professors: ‘My status is constructed upon one small quantity of verse and is stored up by printing two or three extra poems in a 12 months. The one factor that issues is that these ought to be good of their form, so that every ought to be an occasion.’ His poems are like symphonies: epic in scope and sweep, with ‘The Wasteland’ specifically, extensively considered a pillar of modernist poetry.

Troubled in his early years by sickness, and later by his famously sad marriage to his first spouse Vivienne Haigh-Wooden Eliot, he wrote melancholic poetry, steadily specializing in the disillusionment of the post-World Warfare One era. One joyous exception to this, nevertheless, is Previous Possum’s E book of Sensible Cats – his assortment of whimsical gentle poems about feline psychology, which impressed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical Cats.

3. Emily Dickinson

For all that she has come to be generally known as one of the iconic figures in American poetry, and for all that she wrote prolifically, Emily Dickinson (pictured) had solely ten of her practically 1800 poems printed in her lifetime. One scholar even famous that Dickinson was recognized extra extensively as a gardener than as a poet. That could be due to her experimentalism: ignoring the norms of rhyme, versification and even grammar, she might have been reluctant to see her work edited to suit a traditional poetic mould.

Or it could be that she herself didn’t need to alter her work to make it extra accessible. If that’s the case, she made a very good name: Dickinson’s use of ambiguity was certainly one of her strongest instruments, and it performs an enormous half in her present recognition, with legions of students persevering with to dispute the which means of each line she ever wrote. It has additionally offered myriad prospects to composers, a number of of whom, together with Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber and the up to date composer Anna Clyne, have tried to seize the essence of Dickinson’s poetry in music.

4.Ted Hughes

Lengthy reviled for the half many believed he performed in driving his spouse, Sylvia Plath, to suicide, Ted Hughes by no means lived to see his picture totally rehabilitated. But, within the years since his loss of life, in 1998, there was a turning of the tide in his favour. Regardless of all of the controversy surrounding him, the previous Poet Laureate is often ranked as one of many twentieth century’s best writers, with a form of elemental power to his type – most evident in poems like ‘Hawk Roosting’ and ‘Jaguar’ – that has gained him such nicknames as ‘Heathcliff’ and ‘The Unbelievable Hulk of English literature.’

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Viscerally compelling, his poetry would translate simply into music, but surprisingly few composers have explored the alternatives, one exception being Sally Beamish, who based mostly her Cello Concerto No. 1 on Hughes’s ‘River’ poems.

5. Sylvia Plath

Not everyone seems to be offered on Sylvia Plath’s self-confessional – some would possibly even name it self-absorbed – type of poetry. However she was actually one of the dynamic poets of the final century, who, by the point she dedicated suicide in 1963 on the age of 30, already had an enormous following. Clinically depressed for a lot of her life, the American author used poetry as a medium for exploring her interior turmoil, her tumultuous marriage to Ted Hughes, her relationship along with her dad and mom and different, equally troubling, subject material. It made for a fairly miserable physique of labor, however one which – due to her masterful really feel for the rhythm and energy of language – kicks the reader within the intestine.

6. John Milton

He’s greatest recognized for ‘Paradise Misplaced’, the best epic poem within the English language, however John Milton had an extended and numerous profession, writing a number of the most groundbreaking literature within the literary Canon. Most of the phrases and phrases we use daily got here to us from Milton, who used his data of Latin and different languages to counsel phrases which may in any other case by no means have entered our lexicon. Furthermore, by his engagement with scientific, theological, and political concepts, he set a precedent for generations of successors. Would The Lord of the Rings exist with out him? Or Philip Pullman’s His Darkish Supplies trilogy? Nearly actually not. In actual fact, many would say he was second in status and affect solely to William Shakespeare, which brings us onto…

7. William Shakespeare

He may not want an introduction, however we will hardly miss him out can we? Other than the truth that each line of Shakespeare’s performs drips with poetry, the poems themselves are recognised as a number of the best the world has ever recognized. Coping with timeless themes – life and loss of life, youth versus age, love and hate, destiny and free will, and so forth – Shakespeare toyed with the conventions of Elizabethan poetry, leaving a physique of labor that was as important for its verbal richness because it was for its ambiguities and profundities. That goes for the sonnets, sure, but in addition different poetry, such because the ‘Rape of Lucrece’ and the practically 1200-line poem of 1593, Venus and Adonis, which was Shakespeare’s best-selling work in his lifetime.

Surprisingly although, his poems have had comparatively little in the way in which of musical settings – a minimum of by classical composers. One composer who has thrown his hat into the ring is Robert Hollingworth, director of the vocal ensemble I Fagiolini. Their 2012 album ‘Shakespeare: the sonnets’, paid tribute to the Bard’s time by utilizing genuine devices from the early seventeenth century, together with the lirone, theorbo, viol, cornett, sackbut and shawm, amongst others.

8. Maya Angelou

She lived by poverty, violence and racism. She labored with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. And her poems, whereas telling the story of her life, describe the broader expertise of African American ladies. Born in Missouri in 1928, Maya Angelou grew to become a poet and author after a string of wierd jobs, together with fry cook dinner, intercourse employee, nightclub performer, Porgy and Bess solid member, Southern Christian Management Convention coordinator, and correspondent in Egypt and Ghana throughout the decolonization of Africa.

Self-confessedly utilizing poetry as a approach of dealing with trauma, she wrote in a approach that was direct and conversational, filled with vivid imagery, that felt as if she have been talking on to the reader. Some criticised the consequence as being little greater than prose with line breaks. However, there isn’t a denying Angelou’s significance as a cultural and historic determine, demonstrated by her many accolades, together with greater than 50 honorary levels and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

9. John Keats

Identified for his use of sensuous imagery, John Keats made one of many largest contributions to the Romantic literary motion, and it might have been larger nonetheless, had he not died of tuberculosis aged solely 25. The son of a livery-stable supervisor, he acquired comparatively little formal training and – as a reasonably pugnacious younger boy – didn’t appear destined for a literary profession. However at 14 he started to learn voraciously and, following a stint as a junior home surgeon at Man’s and St Thomas’s Hospital, devoted himself to poetry. In all, he wrote 150 poems however these on which his status primarily rests have been written over the course of 9 months, from January to September 1819. Most well-known amongst them are ‘Ode to to a Nightingale’ and ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’, each of which have been set by varied composers, together with Valentin Silvestrov and Gustav Holst.

10. Edgar Allan Poe

Shedding his actor dad and mom at a younger age, Edgar Allan Poe grew up in a foster household and had a tough relationship along with his adoptive father, who disapproved of his author ambitions. They later parted methods, with Poe happening to grow to be the primary well-known American author to earn his residing by writing alone.

Extensively credited with being the inventor of the detective story, in addition to a key determine within the institution of science fiction as a style, Allan Poe revelled in experimentalism. He was among the many first writers to make use of the literary strategy of ‘present, do not inform’ – a way he employed with nice aplomb. He’s greatest recognized, nevertheless, because the main exponent of Gothic Horror, with ‘The Raven’ – his poem wherein a younger scholar is emotionally plagued by a raven’s ominous repetition of ‘Nevermore’ – rating among the many most well-known American literary writings of all time. It has been set by a number of composers, amongst them Joseph Holbrooke, Leonard Slatkin and Toshio Hosokawa.



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