As Robert Frost beautifully put it—poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words. The era of poetry is ever lasting, which is why century-old poems are read and appreciated till date. On World Poetry Day today, we reminisce and honour ten of the best poets from different backgrounds and times, bound by their love for the literary art.
1. Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
The Persian Sunni Muslim poet has left a lasting impression on poetry lovers since the 13th century. Fondly known as Rumi, he is avidly read by Gen Y’ers around the world. His most famous poetic work is considered to be Matnawiye Ma’nawi which is a six volume poem containing spiritual couplets. It is regarded as Persian Quran by many Sufis. His other known works include ghazals, quatrains and couplets, mostly written in Persian, Turkish, Greek and Arabic languages.
2. Rabindranath Tagore
Author of the Indian National Anthem, Rabindranath Tagore was a progressive poet. His poems are not only valuable but also relevant in today’s modern world. His most famous work, Gitanjali, is read internationally and also lead him to win the Nobel Prize in 1913. His poetic range varies from classic formalism to visionary and ecstatic, which makes his work relatable even today.
3. Kahlil Gibran
The third bestselling poet of all time after Shakespeare and Laozi, Khalil Gibran is considered a Lebanese poetic hero. He is famous for his poetic prose style of writing. His most popular work is The Prophet, a 1923 book written as a poetic prose. If you’ve ever read his bold, rebellious Arabic literature, you’ll know just why his work is relevant in today’s changing political scenario.
4. Maya Angelou
An American poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou has innumerable praises and awards to her name. She was called ‘the black woman’s poet laureate’. Her poems, equally honoured by the people, have been called ‘the anthems of African Americans’. Caged Bird is a must read from her poetic library.
5. Pablo Neruda
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971, Pablo Neruda became famous as a writer at the age of 10. That’s something, right? People love his romantic poems the most, including If You Forget Me, which is an absolute delight to read.
Bas ki dushvar hai har kaam ka aasan hona
Admi ko bhi mayassar nhi insan hona.
Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan or Ghalib was a poet of the Mughal era. He wrote in Persian and Urdu and is considered the most influential poet of the Urdu language. Dabir-ul-Mulk and Najm-ud-Daula are his most recognised works.
7. Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde was an Irish poet who gained fame during the 1890s. His poetry is used as quotes by the millennials today and can be read on art and literature platforms such as Good Reads. His most popular poems include By The Arno, Athanasia, The Grave of Shelley and Theocritus.
8. Sylvia Plath
The late American poet is known for her passionate, reflective and sometimes violent verses about love, life and society. Millennials absolutely love reading her works as they resonate deeply with their own feelings and emotions. Daddy, Tulips, and Lady Lazarus (all published in the 60s) are some of her best works.
9. TS Eliot
Thomas Stearns Eliot was a major British poet of the 20th century—a master of Modernist movement. The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, written in 1915, still remains his best poetic expression. Here is an excerpt:
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
The most famous poet and lyricist of our times, Gulzar is an Indian literary genius awarded with a Padma Bhushan. He writes in a variety of dialects including Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi. Gulzar’s most famous compilation of poems is Raat Pashminey Ki which can be easily obtained from any bookstore or e-commerce website.
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