Top 5 Poets Everyone Must Read


Namita Pise

These days, when we’re bored or have some extra time on our hands, we opt to play video games or watch TV shows. But spending more hours on Netflix may not be the relaxation that we all desire. Instead, what we need may actually come in the form of words, more specifically, as poetry. Now I know what you’re thinking: we read books and poems for analysing and writing essays in class, often forgetting to enjoy the works for what they simply are. Yet what if I told you that poetry does not begin or end in the classroom? A poem, a series of words that speak to soul, are the past, present, and future of human existence. From the start of time, people of all ages have written about their feelings and memories. And through this, they create art and document messages that transcend time. As the generation of the future, perhaps poetry is the only way for us to learn and connect with each other. Perhaps through poetry, we can find ourselves again and, hopefully, just relax.

Here are the top 5 poets in no particular order that, in my opinion, everyone must read.

1. Rainer Maria Rilke

Go to the limits of your longing”

Rainer Maria Rilke, a Bohemian-Austrian poet who wrote in German, created complex yet beautiful poems. His works are inspired by Frederich Nietzsche, Leo Tolstoy, Sigmund Freud, and Soren Kierkegaard. These inspirations combined create obscure but powerful poems. Rilke spoke a lot about the darkness of mankind. He also wrote about religion and creativity. My favorite work is his book “Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God,” a combination of poems divided into three categories: “The Book of Monastic Life,” The Book of Pilgrimage,” and “The Book of Poverty and Death.” This structure takes the reader through a journey of searching and following religion whilst being shrouded by the inevitability of death and poverty that surrounds human life. These poems are all very heavy, but there is something enlightening about learning a new perspective that was influenced by opposing schools of thought. I would recommend the poem “Go to the Limits of your Longing,” a potent piece about embracing our existence.

2. Robert Frost

I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”

Robert Frost, arguably the most famous poet the world has ever seen, was a writer of the ordinary. One of the aspects in his writing that I noticed was that he wrote about situations all people faced during his time and somewhat embodied the internal conflicts and emotions that they all experienced. His simplistic writing brings clarity even to the readers today. And as I read his poems, I’ve noticed there is something vivid and bright about the words he uses. Even in the 21st century, I can imagine the nature, snow, and darkness that Frost wrote about. For those who are exploring poetry for the first time, Robert Frost is definitely a great start on your journey of new discoveries. Recently, I came across his poem “The Lesson For Today,” which is an ode to appreciating the nuances of our lives and the developments of technology, religion and art. But at the same time, Frost used this poem to write his epitaph two decades before his death. There is something compelling about his writing, something none of us can truly pinpoint but something that flickers within each and every one of us.

3. Gabriela Mistral

This shall be eternity

For we are still as we were.”

Lucila Godoy Alcayaga, well-known by her pseudonym Gabriela Mistral, is famous as the first Latin-American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her poems are different and full of visual imagery. They depict the Latin-American culture through ordinary situations whether it is drinking coconut water on the beach, the complexities of rain, or exploring life, love and death. These themes are common among many poets, but Mistral’s work offers a different lens and interpretation. It is simple yet exceedingly complex. What I appreciated the most about her work was the ability for her words to allow us to simply feel.

4. T.S Eliot

So the darkness shall be the light, the stillness the dancing.”

The first poet I ever read was T.S Eliot. I vividly remember his poem “The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock” and his collection “The Four Quartets.” Both these works had distinctive features that separated them from other works. First, they were very extensive. Second, they spoke of time and had a lot of room for thought. Eliot was known as the leader of modernism in poetry. His poems reflect timeless ideas regarding human nature and lifestyles. Yet, they are also very cerebral. The detailed description of a certain situation is often lengthy and comprehensive, leaving the reader with a clear image of what Eliot wanted to portray - and more. His poetry, in my opinion, blurs line with music. There is a rhythmic quality to his words, making them memorable and open to interpretation.

5. Sarojini Naidu

In that magical wood in the land of sleep.”

Nicknamed as the “Nightingale of India,” Sarojini Naidu was an Indian poet who experienced the struggle for Indian independence followed by the Partition of the Indian subcontinent. Her poems spoke of freedom and connected to the Indian masses, urging them to dream of a free land of peace, equity and contentment. Naidu used her poems as a voice to her political activism. I was inspired by her role as a political figure but also as a female poet during a tumultuous time in history when women did not quite hold roles that she did. One of Naidu’s famous collections of poems is called “The Golden Threshold.” The poems surround popular themes of a search for truth, the glimmer of hope, and the power of unity.