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Famous Poets Your Students Should Know

Famous poets

Shel Silverstein (1930 – 1999)


Famous quote: “What I do is good. I wouldn’t let it out if I didn’t think it was.”

Learn more: About Shel (official website)

Read it: “Dirty Face

Naomi Shihab Nye (1952 – )


Famous quote: “Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.”

Learn more: About Naomi Shihab Nye (Academy of American Poets)

Read it: “The Traveling Onion

Francisco X. Alarcón (1954 – 2016)


Famous quote: “I carry my roots with me all the time rolled up, I use them as my pilllow.”

Learn more: Francisco X. Alarcón (Poetry Foundation)

Read it: “Ode to My Shoes

Roald Dahl (1916 – 1990)


Famous quote: “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Learn more: Roald Dahl (official website)

Read it: “The Tummy Beast

Rudyard Kipling (1865 – 1936)


Famous quote: “We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.”

Learn more: Rudyard Kipling (Poetry Foundation)

Read it: “If—

Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014)


Famous quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Learn more: Maya Angelou (official website)

Read it: “On the Pulse of Morning

Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)


Famous quote: ”Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and wearyt.”

Learn more: The Poe Museum

Read it: “The Raven

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 – 1906)


Famous quote: “A minute to smile and an hour to weep in, A pint of joy to a peck of trouble, And never a laugh but the moans come double; And that is life!”

Learn more: About Paul Laurence Dunbar (Academy of American Poets)

Read it: “We Wear the Mask

Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)


Famous quote: “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul — and sings the tunes without the words — and never stops at all.”

Learn more: Emily Dickinson Museum

Read it: “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers

Amanda Gorman (1998 – )


Famous quote: “There is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Learn more: About Amanda Gorman (Academy of American Poets)

Read it: “The Hill We Climb

Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)


Famous quote: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”

Learn more: About Robert Frost (Academy of American Poets)

Read it: “The Road Not Taken

Langston Hughes (1901 – 1967)


Famous quote: “Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”

Learn more: About Langston Hughes (Academy of American Poets)

Read it: “I Too Sing America

E.E. Cummings (1894 – 1962)


Famous quote: “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

Learn more: E. E. Cummings (Poetry Foundation)

Read it: “i carry your heart with me

Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973)


Famous quote: “To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life.”

Learn more: Pablo Neruda (Poetry Foundation)

Read it: “I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You

Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892)


Famous quote: “Either define the moment or the moment will define you.”

Learn more: About Walt Whitman (Academy of American Poets)

Read it: “I Hear America Singing

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 – 1861)


Famous quote: “If you desire faith, then you have faith enough.”

Learn more: About Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Academy of American Poets)

Read it: “How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)

William Blake (1757 – 1827)


Famous quote: “It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.”

Learn more: William Blake (Poetry Foundation)

Read it: “The Tyger

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882)


Famous quote: “Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

Learn more: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Poetry Foundation)

Read it: “The Children’s Hour

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)


Famous quote: “A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.”

Learn more: Ralph Waldo Emerson (Poetry Foundation)

Read it: “Uriel

John Keats (1796 – 1821)


Famous quote: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever; its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.”

Learn more: John Keats (Poetry Foundation)

Read it: “A Thing of Beauty (Endymion)

Li Bai (701 – 762)


Famous quote: “We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.”

Learn more: Li Bai (Poetry Foundation)

Read it: “Quiet Night Thought

Lord Byron (1788 – 1824)


Famous quote: “There is no instinct like that of the heart.”

Learn more: Lord Byron (George Gordon) (Poetry Foundation)

Read it: “She Walks in Beauty

Sappho (~615 BCE – 550 BCE)


Famous quote: “What is beautiful is good, and who is good will soon be beautiful.”

Learn more: About Sappho (Academy of American Poets)

Read it: “Sappho 31

William Shakespeare


Famous quote: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts. His acts being seven ages.”

Learn more: William Shakespeare Biography (Arts Council England)

Read it: “Sonnet XVIII” (Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?)

Did we miss some famous poets? Share them in the comments below. Also, check out 30 Famous Inventors Your Students Should Know!

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