16 Best Poetry Books of All Time

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We were introduced to poetry books when we were children. Some of us continue to admire this type of literary work and developed a deeper appreciation for a rhythmical piece of writing.

However, as the digital age booms, we welcome the usage of gadgets and devices that favor easy reading.

Poetry becomes underutilized in modern culture.

The Essential Rumi

Our #1 Recommended Poetry Book

The Essential Rumi has long been regarded as the definitive selection of Rumi’s mystical poems. And now, this revised and expanded edition features over 80 previously unpublished works.

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Let’s not forget this wonderful literary piece and the written works made with rich, meaningful words and interesting metaphors that evokes strong emotion to every reader.

We have gathered the best poetry books that this generation will definitely love.

Best Poetry Books of All Time

Sr. No.TitlePublication DatePrint LengthAuthorPublisherWhere to Buy
1The Essential Rumi, New Expanded EditionMay 28, 2004414 pagesJalal al-Din RumiHarper SanFrancisco
2Leaves of Grass by Walt WhitmanApril 4, 185546 pagesWalt WhitmanChump Change
3The Sonnets by William ShakespeareSeptember 07, 2016104 pages
William ShakespeareCreatespace Independent Publishing Platform
Book Shop
4The Raven and Other Poems by Edgar Allan PoeAugust 28, 201588 pagesEdgar Allan PoeBroken Column PressAmazon
5The Collected Poetry of William Butler YeatsApril 9, 2018214 pagesWilliam Butler YeatsDigireads.com PublishingAmazon
6Beowulf by Unknown
November 12, 2016184 pages
Lesslie HallCreatespace Independent Publishing PlatformBook Shop
7Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Marie RilkeJanuary 15, 2008100 pagesRainer Maria RilkeUniversity of Scranton PressAmazon
8The Complete Poetry and Prose of William BlakeJuly 7, 20081016 pagesWilliam BlakeUniversity of California Press
9Metamorphoses by OvidNovember 17, 2003597 pagesOvidW. W. Norton & Company
Book Shop
10The Iliad by HomerOctober 1, 1990683 pagesHomerViking Adult
11The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily DickinsonAugust 28, 2018118 pagesEmily DickinsonLulu.comAmazon

1. The Essential Rumi, New Expanded Edition

This poetry book includes over 80 poems by Rumi and are translated by Coleman Barks in the New Expanded Edition of The Essential Rumi. Rumi is the #1 best-selling poet in the United States.

Rumi is also known as Jalal al-Din Rumi, he was born in Balkh Province, Afghanistan and then wrote poetry for nearly his whole life while living in the area that is now present-day Turkey.

His spiritual teachings come out through mystical poems that make you think deeper into the life you are living.

This is a great collection of Rumi works; it is a good idea to read individual poems from the book every day to help you get in touch with your environment and with yourself.

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2. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

This poetry book is the original 1855 edition written by Walt Whitman. This version has just 160 pages.

There are six other versions of Leaves of Grass that were rewritten and assembled by Whitman, each one longer and with additional poems in it.

His poetry is sensual and encourages an individual’s role in nature, in which a single blade of grass represents that individual. These poems were a whole different type of genre than what was normally accepted at the time that they were written.

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3. The Sonnets by William Shakespeare

This is a collection of 154 of William Shakespeare’s 14-line poems. Shakespeare’s style of writing pulls at the hearts of many who read his poems and are based around the ideas of beauty, love and sometimes tragedy.

It was initially published in the year 1609, and it now has 102 pages long and is written in English. Henry N. Hudson wrote the preface and annotations in this edition, plus it also includes an introduction was given by Charles Harold Herford.

You may already know of William Shakespeare. He was an English poet who wrote poems, short stories, and plays. He is most known for his playwriting skills and the play Romeo and Juliet.

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4. The Raven and Other Poems by Edgar Allan Poe

Seventy-three pages of Edgar Allan Poe’s greatest poems, including one of his most well-known works, The Raven. His short stories are often mysterious, dark, and spooky.

Other than The Raven, this book contains many of Poe’s other works including The Bells, Annabel Lee, Lenore, Dreams, To Helen, The Haunted Palace and many, many more.

It also has an introduction that is written by Philip Pullman and includes an index for easy navigation. If you enjoy poems that are out of the ordinary and enigmatic, you will enjoy this read.

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5. The Collected Poetry of William Butler Yeats

Nobel Prize winner William Butler Yeats presents his Irish folklore and occult inspired poems and short stories. Included are some of his best works such as Crossways and The Rose.

This exact copy was published in 2018, but his original poems were mostly written in the 1900s, with a few written in the 1800s. His most dramatic works are the reason why he received a Nobel Prize, and he will be known as one of the greatest poets in history for a long time.

If you love reading poems and short stories that use a lot of symbolism and allusive imagery, you will find this collection fascinating.

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6. Beowulf by Unknown

This preserved work by an unknown author was written as early as the 800s AD. This version is translated to English by Lesslie Hall.

The very original book was in the Old English language, which was spoken in Anglo-Saxon England a very long time ago.

Beowulf is actually one of the first stories ever discovered in the English language.

It is an epic story about a young swordsman, based in Scandinavia, who goes on a journey. This translation includes margin notes for reference purposes and information.

This version is thought to be better than the translation written by Francis Gummere.

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7. Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Marie Rilke

Beautifully translated by David Young from the original German-language it was written in. This is the best and most recommended edition for fans of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke.

Rainer’s early writings were often influenced by the Danish writer, Jens Peter Jacobsen, but he later developed his own style.

You will be inspired and mesmerized by his work which was an expressive art form for him throughout his life.

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8. The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake

William Blake was a powerful writer who was born and homeschooled in the United Kingdom. His type of writing was developed through gothic inspirations and is widely known for its Romanticism style.

The first publication of this version of Blake’s collected works was published in 1965. It’s a time consuming read at 1016 pages long but is definitely worth the time.

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9. Metamorphoses by Ovid

Ovid was a famous Roman poet who was put into exile by Emperor Augustus. Metamorphoses is his best-known work.

This epic is based around mythology and has an outstanding influence on thousands of poets leading up until the current day and age.

The translation used for this copy of Metamorphoses is one of the easier to read versions − especially if you are not used to reading this type of writing.

It is the one translation that was praised by Robert Fagles, who translated The Odyssey and The Iliad. There are a few other translations available if this one is not satisfactory for you.

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10. The Iliad by Homer

The Iliad is an epic poem written about the events of the Trojan War. Its 200 pages are often studied by scholars and students at many universities and secondary schools because of the technical style of writing and the history behind it.

Homer, whose credit was given for the creation of The Iliad and The Odyssey, was born around 725 BC and put in the work to make a record of these epic poems that were formerly passed down by word of mouth.

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11. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson

Believe it or not, celebrated American poet Emily Dickinson only published eleven poems during her lifetime, and it was only after her death that this prolific writer’s huge collection of work was finally made available to the public.

Thankfully, the world eventually discovered her genius, and we’re able to enjoy Dickinson’s unique and unmistakable work that was almost buried by history. 

The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson features 1775 poems, carefully organized into three chronologically ordered volumes, so you can see how her style changed and developed over the years.

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12. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot

This short book is only 56 pages long and was written by T. S. Eliot, a poet who was born in St. Louis, Missouri and learned his writing skills through his life in London, England.

His incredible poems won him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1948 and a lifetime of fame after his death.

This book looks at the humorous behavior for cats and was the inspiration for the musical production by Andrew Lloyd Weber, Cats!

These poems are rhythmic and are great to read to children or to read to yourself. It will prove to be a fun read.

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13. Selected Poems by Lord Byron

Lord Byron was a British poet who led the way through the romantic movement of poetry. This edition includes excerpts from Don Juan and the 16 Cantos that were completed by Lord Byron before he died at the young age of 36.

This translation is 884 pages, although if you are able, you should read the Chinese translation, it is much more authentic and appreciative of the author’s writing skills.

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14. Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney

This is a short read of only 64 pages. It was written by the Irish Poet and 1995 Nobel Prize winner, Seamus Heaney.

Heaney was a professor at Harvard University.

His style of writing was inspired by everyday life and nature in Northern Ireland, where he was born. This was his first and debut published collection of poems (published in 1966). It has poems written by Heaney that are anywhere between 9 lines to 3 pages long.

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15. Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire

This adaptation of Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire contains both the French and English translations. Tidball translates the English version.

It has facing-page translations for easy comparison while reading. This edition has 476 pages, including both translations.

Charles Baudelaire was a famous French poet and art critic in the nineteenth century, Les Fleurs du Mal being his most memorable work created.

His work was largely influenced by writer, Edgar Allan Poe and had complex themes written in a very technical style. This is a good read for those who appreciate well-written poetry.

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16. The Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath

This is a collection of poems written by Sylvia Plath. Plath was a poet whose work won her a Pulitzer Prize in 1982 and a lifetime of remembrance.

This book is a collection of her poems, edited and introduced by Ted Hughes. It is 341 pages long and contains works that she wrote using a very drastic style of writing.

Her work seemed obsessed with death and contained an extreme amount of emotion. As you read Plath, you will be able to feel her internal anguish and suffering. That suffering ended when she turned 30, but her poetry will always be around because of her incredible skill.

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