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Some Favourite Poets

Prior to my list of great poets, I acknowledge the great poets of our prehistory: those who first came up with metaphor and simile by comparing us to the natural world of rocks, trees, animals, the oceans and the light; the nameless Australian Aboriginal makers of song cycles; the ancient Egyptians; and the Greek Bronze age poets of and before the time of Homer.

Han Shan

China, T'ang Dynasty

Put simply, Han Shan, which means Cold Mountiain, was arguably humanity's finest poet of all time

His verse is simple yet complex, humble yet profound. He writes from a point of view that loves the natural world, and is humanist, Taoist and Buddhist influenced. The perfect antidote to the noise of the modern world


Matsuo Basho

Japan, Edo period

Basho is the greatest of the haiku masters. He has inspired generations around the world to develop a pure and condensed form of expression based in sophisticated metaphor of nature and human behaviour


John Milton

England, 17th century

Milton's Paradise Lost is possibly the greatest narrative poem in English



Italy, 16th century

Dante's Divine Comedy is certainly the finest narrative poem of his time


Germany 1770-1843

A unique mix of old Germanic gods and Christianity and natural philosophy


Reiner Maria Rilke

Austria 1875-1926

If you believe in angels, Rilke wrote beside them. His Duino Elegies are difficult to describe rationally


Bai Juyi (Po Chu I)

China T'ang Dynasty

Famous for describing ordinary life in town, and loosening up some of the stricter aspects of traditional verse forms. Warm and human.


Emily Dickinson

USA 19th Century

One of America's finest poetic minds, a seemingly endless ability to create concise and exquisite poems



Ancient Rome

My favourite of the Roman greats, for his odes


Mir Taqi Mir

Pakistan 17th century

Perhaps a hybrid of Sufi and Islamic mysticism, one of the greates spiritual poets of all time


Odysseus Elytis

Greece 20th century

A Nobel Laureate who brings the timeless power of the Greek poetic mind into modern language


Pablo Neruda

Chile 20th Century

The greatest of the South Americans, a Nobel Laureate, a lover of all the kaleidoscopic variety of life and the natural world


William Wordsworth and John Clare

England 19th century

The finest of Englands great tradition of nature poetry


Poets who almost made my list

William Blake; Spenser; Sir Philip Sidney; e.e.cummings, Walt Whitman; William Carlos Williams; Walter de la Mare; Shakespeare sonnets; Hesiod; Theocritus; Su Tung Po; Hsieh Ling Yun. Beter stop there...

updated: 02/03/2022