20th Century Modern English Poets you must read – a list with features of their poetry

Posted in: Lists
15 20th-century English Poets you MUST read! List critics poetry modern

Modern English poetry has evolved significantly since the days of Old English poetry. It tends to focus on more abstract topics and has fewer strict rules for meter and rhyme. Modern English poetry often relies on figurative language and imagery to create deeper meanings and emotions. Additionally, modern English poetry typically has a more conversational tone and relies on everyday language and expressions to convey the author’s thoughts. In contrast, Old English poetry was heavily structured, with a set number of syllables per line and a specific rhyme scheme. It also relied on more complex language, often using Latin or French words. Overall, modern English poetry is more flexible and modern in its approach, while Old English poetry was more rigid and traditional in its form.

Also, read – How to study poetry?

Reading classic English poetry, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, Coleridge, Browning, Tennyson, and others may sound sweet. However, if you want to challenge your understanding of literature, modern poetry is the right bet! Reading modern English poetry is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the beauty of language, as it can reveal emotions and ideas with a powerful and nuanced impact. It can also challenge your understanding of the world by introducing new perspectives, helping you to develop your critical thinking skills. Additionally, reading modern English poetry can help you to appreciate the unique rhythms and cadences of language, which can be an enjoyable and enriching experience.

So, which are the modern English poets to read and enjoy? There are many! Here is a list of fifteen modern English poets you must read.

T. S. Eliot: T S Eliot’s poems are some of the most powerful and moving works of poetry I have ever read. His use of language and imagery is breathtaking and it’s easy to understand why he is considered one of the greatest poets of the modern era. His works offer a deep exploration of the human condition and the struggles of life. His words evoke strong emotions and memories, making them unforgettable. I would rate his poems highly and would recommend them to anyone looking for a great literary experience. Eliot’s name will forever be etched as one of the most debated, discussed, and appreciated figures in the history of English literature.

W H Auden:
W H Auden’s poetry is truly remarkable. He has such a unique and distinctive style that is both clever and creative. His poems often explore the depths of human emotion, and his use of language is both powerful and insightful. He has the ability to capture the complexity of the human experience in a few succinct words, and his work remains relevant and timeless. I highly recommend reading some of his work – you won’t be disappointed!

W B Yeats:
W B Yeats was a poet of unique qualities and unmatched class. His writing is filled with beautiful imagery and thought-provoking musings, making his poems an engaging and rewarding read. His works also draw on Irish folklore and mythology, creating a vivid and evocative landscape that invites readers to explore. Yeats’ skill with words makes him a masterful storyteller, and his poetic style remains as relevant today as it was during his lifetime. Reading his work is an excellent way to understand Ireland’s rich literary heritage and to appreciate the beauty of language.

Sylvia Plath:
Sylvia Plath’s poetry is important because it offers an insight into the mind of an individual struggling with mental health issues, as well as provides a voice for those who have been silenced by society. Her poetry speaks to the struggles of being a woman in a patriarchal society and how people can find solace in their own thoughts and emotions. It is also important for its vivid imagery and its exploration of dark, difficult topics. Plath’s work has had a lasting impact on the literary world and on those who have read her poetry.

Robert Frost:
Robert Frost is considered one of the greatest American poets of all time. His work is renowned for its deep insight into human nature, its vivid imagery, and its timeless language. He was able to capture complex emotions in simple language, and his poems often explored themes of nature, mortality, and the power of human choice. He also wrote in a unique and memorable style, often creating vivid metaphors and clever wordplay. He was a master of both narrative and lyrical poetry, and his work has inspired generations of readers.

Dylan Thomas:
Dylan Thomas was a renowned Welsh poet and playwright. His works are renowned for their use of vivid imagery, lyrical language, and a unique poetic style. He was a master of the craft of poetry, writing pieces that explored the inner depths of human emotion and experience. He was particularly interested in exploring the spiritual elements of life and death, often using religious imagery and language to great effect in his work. He also wrote several pieces that addressed political and social issues. His most famous works include “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” and “And Death Shall Have No Dominion”. Thomas’ work has been widely celebrated for its beauty and complexity, and he is considered one of the greatest English language poets of the 20th century.

Seamus Heaney:
Seamus Heaney’s poetry is special because of its ability to explore the complexities of human life, from the mundane to the profound. His work is often characterized by its lyrical beauty and insight into the human experience while still retaining its accessibility. Heaney’s use of language to express his thoughts and emotions, as well as his skill in crafting vivid images and metaphors, is what makes his poetry so special. Heaney’s work is often praised for its craftsmanship and artistry, and for its ability to capture the essence of the human experience.

John Masefield:
John Masefield was an English poet, novelist, and playwright who wrote poems that were known for their lyrical appeal and vivid imagery. He often wrote about the natural world, but his work also had a strong spiritual and philosophical element. He used clever wordplay and clever turns of phrases to convey his ideas and emotions in an engaging way. He was also known for his use of alliteration, rhythm and repetition to give his poetry an added layer of depth and power.

D. H. Lawrence:
No list of 20th-century English poets can be complete without mentioning Lawrence! D.H. Lawrence’s poetry is enjoyable to read due to his unique use of imagery and his ability to capture complex emotions and concepts in a simple, yet powerful way. His use of language is often poetic and evocative, and his poems often explore themes of nature, love, and life’s struggles. His use of metaphors and symbols makes his poetry accessible and relatable, while still managing to be thought-provoking and beautiful. Lawrence’s poetry is a wonderful way to explore the depths of human emotion and to find beauty in the everyday.

Thomas Hardy:
You must know him as a novelist already! Thomas Hardy was indeed an excellent poet, and his work is still widely regarded and appreciated today. While he was sometimes viewed as a pessimist due to his tendency to write about darker topics, his work also demonstrates his keen eye for detail and his deep understanding of human emotions. His work is a testament to his skill and insight as a poet and has inspired countless others to explore the art of poetry.

Ted Hughes:
Ted Hughes’ poetry is relevant today because it is steeped in a deep sense of the environment, both natural and cultural. His work often explores the relationship between humans and nature, and his use of vivid and often dark imagery has a powerful effect. Hughes’ style was deeply rooted in the traditional forms and structures of English poetry, but he was also able to experiment with surreal and abstract language and concepts to create his own unique style. His use of symbolism, figurative language and poetic devices such as metaphor and allusion adds to the complexity and depth of his work. His poems are often thought-provoking and can be seen as a commentary on the human experience.

Philip Larkin:
Philip Larkin’s poetry is some of the most beautiful and powerful writing ever composed. His intricate use of imagery and poetic devices make each poem a captivating and thought-provoking experience. Whether you’re a fan of poetry or not, his work is definitely worth exploring. Enjoy!

Rudyard Kipling:
Rudyard Kipling was one of the most famous poets of the late 19th and 20th century and his works are still celebrated today. His poetry is known for its vivid imagery and rhythmic patterns. Kipling often wrote about the British Empire and its relationship to the lands it colonized. He also wrote about nature, animals, and the people of India and Pakistan. Kipling’s poetry often featured themes of spirituality, patriotism, courage, morality, and loyalty. His use of language was often powerful and evocative, and he often used various literary techniques to evoke strong emotions in his readers. Kipling’s poetry is a great example of how to use language to create meaningful, beautiful works of art.

A. E. Houseman:
A. E. Houseman’s poems are wonderful because of their unique combination of beauty and wit. His work is often both moving and humorous, and his carefully crafted rhymes and timeless themes make his work a pleasure to read. His writing is also highly evocative and often captures a moment in time with perfect poignancy.

Wilfred Owen:
Wilfred Owen’s poetry is truly remarkable. He wrote some of the most powerful, moving, and thought-provoking verses of the 20th century. His poems explore themes of war, death, suffering, and patriotism in a way that is both heartbreaking and inspiring. His use of vivid imagery and compelling language brings to life the horror, pain, and heroism of war in a way that few poets before him had ever done. I highly recommend reading his work to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be human and the power of poetry to capture the human experience.

I am sure reading these poets will bring varied emotions to your heart. You will be compelled to think about many things as you go on reading. That’s the beauty of poetry. And that’s also the quality of these wonderful English poets of the 20th century! Do let me know by commenting on the names of the poets you like the most. More lists like these will come out on the ReadByCritics platform soon. Keep reading!


By Ashish for ReadByCritics Platform

Read more posts in:

You will also enjoy reading:

3 Comments. Leave new

  • Useful and informative list. Very handy for students of English literature. Thank you very much!

  • Very useful list… I was looking for something helpful for my research project, English Major.
    Thank you again!

  • Navneet Patel
    July 2, 2023 4:10 pm

    Wow! I was actively looking for someone to come up with this list! It is very helpful for beginners in studying English literature. Many thanks for this list of 20th century English poets.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed