General Question

josie's avatar

Who is the best 20th century poet?

Asked by josie (30931points) June 21st, 2010

In my opinion, it is without any doubt William Butler Yeats, and nobody has referred me to a poet that I thought was better. But that was before I joined Fluther. Any opinions?

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26 Answers

BoBo1946's avatar

T S Eliot!

dpworkin's avatar

Best, I don’t know. But you may enjoy reading Wallace Stephens, or Phillip Larkin.

dpworkin's avatar

Philip Larkin – This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

anartist's avatar

@dpworkin nice cynical little piece.

dpworkin's avatar

Yeah, but Bob Dylan said it’s Smoky Robinson.

CMaz's avatar

‘Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form.
“Come in,” she said,
“I’ll give you shelter from the storm.”

But, I do dig E. E. Cummings.
“went right to it flooded-the-carburetor cranked her up,slipped the clutch (and then somehow got into reverse she kicked what the hell)
next minute i was back in neutral”

SmashTheState's avatar

Best poets, at opposite ends of the spectrum: Ogden Nash and Charles Bukowski.

To The Whore Who Took My Poems by Charles Bukowski

some say we should keep personal remorse from the
stay abstract, and there is some reason in this,
but jezus;
twelve poems gone and I don’t keep carbons and you have
paintings too, my best ones; its stifling:
are you trying to crush me out like the rest of them?
why didn’t you take my money? they usually do
from the sleeping drunken pants sick in the corner.
next time take my left arm or a fifty
but not my poems:
I’m not Shakespeare
but sometime simply
there won’t be any more, abstract or otherwise;
there’ll always be mony and whores and drunkards
down to the last bomb,
but as God said,
crossing his legs,
I see where I have made plenty of poets
but not so very much

The Cow, by Ogden Nash

The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other, milk.

jenandcolin's avatar

I have no idea but when I brought this up to my hubby (a poet) he said John Berryman. He then added well, he may not be the best, but he is my favorite. So, John Berryman?

MacBean's avatar

Shel Silverstein

anartist's avatar

@MacBean, ALL of Shel Silverstein?

Hey Loretta,
Love you more than my Irish setter
Hey Loretta
Swear I’m gonna treat you better
Hey Loretta don’ leave me alone,
buy you some brand new overalls
if you’ll only come back home

—as well as——-

It was missing a piece
And it was not happy
So it set off in search
of its missing piece
And as it rolled
It sang this song –
“Oh I’m looking for my missin’ piece
I’m looking for my missin’ piece.
Hi-dee-ho, here I go,
Lookin’ for my missin’ piece.”

absalom's avatar

Probably ‘arguably’ Wallace Stevens, but I love Eliot and Yeats, too, and Hart Crane, and Auden… and this is only in the English language.

Jeruba's avatar

The first name that came to mind was Wallace Stevens, but I’d probably put Eliot ahead of Stevens by a hair. If this were going to be a coronation, I would say we have to buy at least three crowns.

janbb's avatar

How can there be a best poet? It’s such a subjective decision. There are so many wonderful poets and so many ways and moods in which to appreciate poetry.

Here’s a personal top ten, as they say, in no particular order:

T.S. Eliot
Dylan Thomas
W.H. Auden
Robert Frost (despite grade school)
Edna St. Vincent Millay
May Sarton
Wallace Stevens
William Butler Yeats
Philip Larkin
James Wright

janbb's avatar

And here’s the poem that justifies why James Wright made the list. It’s one of my favorites.

A Blessing
James Wright


Just off the Highway to Rochester, Minnesota
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

—From Above the River
©Farrar, Straus, Giroux, and The University Press of New England


Return to
Nichael Cramer’s HomePage—Poetry
Nichael Cramer’s HomePage

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Sorry for the repeats, but I feel like I want to vote, too.

T.S. Eliot for Four Quartets
Edna St. Vincent Millay for “Variations”

janbb's avatar

@hawaii_jake I love Four Quartets. I taught “LIttle Gidding” last year; it was a real stretch for my students.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@janbb : I can get lost in that book for days and days. What level of students were you teaching?

janbb's avatar

(Going to pm since this is a General question.)

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Best poet? I think it is all subjective…there are poets that received great accolades like T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost.

And then there are lesser known, but exquisite poets like Mary Oliver.

(I prefer the latter.)

stardust's avatar

I agree with both @janbb and @DarlingRhadamanthus in that it’s all subjective. Picking one best poet simply isn’t possible or necessary.
A few of my favourites are
T.S. Eliot (The Waste Land)
Dylan Thomas
Sylvia Plath
Allen Ginsberg
I also like Mary Oliver too

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Robert Frost and Dylan Thomas. There may be better ones, but I lack the emotional aptitude to understand them.

Andreas's avatar

@All Not to forget Australian poets such as Henry Lawson and AB “Banjo” Paterson. Lawson was often broke, and came from working class stock, whereas Paterson was gentry. They were contemporaries and had a long running “feud” in The Bulletin newsmagazine. Paterson came out better in that matter. Well worth reading. It was Paterson who wrote Waltzing Matilda, about hitting the road with a swag.

I did enjoy Robert Frost in high school, as well as many others, and agree taste in poetry is highly subjective. Blank verse, especially.

My two-cents.

mammal's avatar

Dylan Thomas needs a look in. So does Pablo Neruda.

mammal's avatar

and Rainer Maria Rilke

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