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Who is the Most Famous Poet Ever?


an obvious contender would be Shakespeare but i'm sure there are some more famous. remember, poets who did it as a profession.
i have a few in mind but i'll just put one down for now who was fairly prolific but not universally known; Emily Bishop. remember also that while some poets wrote a lot in their time period, many of their contemporaries were unable to read.
I assume you mean 'poet in the English language', otherwise there are several who'd lead Shakespeare.
I further assume that by 'famous' you mean 'famous amongst people who read poetry' and not necessarily the general public, who'd be more familiar with Katy Perry's Eye of the Tiger than Cumming's [In Just]

With the above, let's also exclude the well known names, as it's pointless discussing whether Byron is more famous than Keats - both are famous, let's leave it at that.
A more interesting question would be: who's the biggest not-that-well-known poet in the English language of the last 100 years?

I'd never heard of Emily Bishop. Apparently there's also an Elizabeth Bishop, who was the opposite of prolific, preferring to polish more and publish less.
any language
while katy wrote a poem her profession is singer. most big forign poets have had their works translated for the world to see. katy perry Hysterical
Pfft. Homer or King David.
(03-26-2019, 07:14 PM)RiverNotch Wrote: [ -> ]Pfft. Homer or King David.

1. Because the bible is the most widely read book in the world, anyone who wrote a song or two there would be 'the most famous'. So not just David, but Solomon as well. Even, in fact, Yeshua, because 'Abunda Bishmaiyya' is a prayer and therefore a poem.
2. After that it would be Allah /Jibreel / Mohammed (the surahs of the Quran are structured in verses with meter and rhythm)
3. After that, Vyasa (the Mahabarata, blank verse)
4. After him, Valmiki (the Ramayana, blank verse)
5. After him, perhaps Li Po or one of the other famous Chinese poets of old....
6. Rabindranath Tagore and Allama Iqbal would also rank pretty high up, because of the sheer size of the populations of Bengal and Pakistan.
7. In the West, anyone who has heard of Homer has probably heard of Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare. But I am not sure if a gun shop owner in Alabama will qualify. I'm skeptical as to how familiar Trump is with the Aeneid. His base even less so.

An interesting question would also be: who is the world's most famous poet in translation (religious books not counting)? Shakespeare is famous in translation as a playwright, not a poet.
^^^
I'm also curious as to the most influential poets. I named Homer not necessarily because he's so well read, but because his stories are an inspiration to countless numbers of writers (whether they know it or not), as well as Homer Simpson.

Though I went for King David because I wanted a specific poet from that fat old book, and, aside from him being explicitly known as a poet (Moses wrote poems too, for instance), "The Lord is my shepherd", "Have mercy upon me O God", and the fact that his process as a poet is so 'well-documented', if Samuel and the legends around Psalms are to be believed.
gods/demi gods and deities are primarily gods/demi gods and deities professionally speaking so any of these could not be classed as a poet i our context. prophets, popes and priests/preistess's are also not professionally seen as poets. remember they had to do it as a profession even if they didn't earn much. and writing a song or two would make one a songwriter. it has to be an established poet either in their lifetime or ours..
(03-26-2019, 08:41 PM)RiverNotch Wrote: [ -> ]^^^
I'm also curious as to the most influential poets. I named Homer not necessarily because he's so well read, but because his stories are an inspiration to countless numbers of writers (whether they know it or not), as well as Homer Simpson.

Though I went for King David because I wanted a specific poet from that fat old book, and, aside from him being explicitly known as a poet (Moses wrote poems too, for instance), "The Lord is my shepherd", "Have mercy upon me O God", and the fact that his process as a poet is so 'well-documented', if Samuel and the legends around Psalms are to be believed.

The western literary tradition is founded on Greek literature and the bible (which is also partially Greek literature, in ten New Testament) and on that basis Homer is influential.
Similarly, the entirety of Indian literature and a large part of its tradition is founded on the Mahabharata and to a lesser extent the Ramayana. It’s also hugely influential in the South East Asian tradition.

It becomes difficult when we include semi legendary figures like Homer and Vyasa, because of their cultural foundation status. 
Homer is not historically identifiable, nor is Vyasa. Perhaps restricting it to “poets with a biography” will make it more meaningful.
So in that sense we can have Virgil, but not Homer from the Graeco Roman classics.
And Kalidasa, but not Vyasa, in Indian literature.

Restricting myself to the Western canon, I would say Virgil was the most influential for later poets overall - including Dante and Milton - and Spenser the most influential in English. Look at Spenser’s poems and compare them with Chaucer’s crude ramblings. If we were to include the blank verse of Shakespeare’s plays, then he would be right on top.

Shakespeare for me is like Mozart, an inexhaustible source of beauty.
Now thou and I are new in amity
Death is a fearful thing
Take o take those lips away
A motley fool
Very like a whale
Time hath my lord a wallet at his back
On such a night as this
The vaulty heaven so high above our heads 
I dreamt there was an emperor Antony
Why man he doth bestride the world
Our revels are now ended
Under the greenwood tree 
Out out brief candle

These are from memory

The list goes on
Shakespeare’s plays are rubbish, but his poetry is ethereal. 
There is also Dante, in Canto V of Inferno....quite hypnotic
(03-26-2019, 07:14 PM)RiverNotch Wrote: [ -> ]Pfft. Homer or King David.
I'd probably agree with Rivernotch here, but I see billy isn't in accord on the matter (and I disagree with billy's reasons on why).
I need to ask what your (billy's) specific definitions of "famous" and "poet" are, and do the rest of you (the forum) agree that the definitions are valid for the question?
My own take on the question, i.e. trying to understand what was meant by it rather than begging it with both hands...

"Famous" = known to many from his (or her) time to, and including, ours, which does *not* imply any of the many having read his or her work, and
"Poet" = famous principally for being a poet (though poetry was not necessarily the person's principal occupation).

By this composite definition, I'd include Homer (despite his likely being a composite himself) though not Shakespeare (principally known as a playwright), Carl Sandburg but not David or Mao (principally known as rulers), Tennyson and Byron but not PBUH (principally known for founding a religion, though this is a close call due to his generally accepted excellence as a poet).

We do have the problem of languages.  Schiller or Byron? Omar Khayaam or Tennyson?  Vergil or Li Bai? (I got that last one straight from DuckDuckGo, never heard of him before, but probably known to more human beings, living or dead, than any other poet.)

One test might be that when you say one name, everyone thinks "poet" (another reason Shakespeare doesn't make the cut).  And then there's the issue of quality ignored:  some of us may think Whitman was better than Tennyson, but more have heard of T than W as a poet.

So, in the Anglosphere, I suspect a survey would turn up Tennyson, Kipling, and Homer among those who were asked to "name a poet" without providing a list for multiple choice, with the nod perhaps going to Homer.  Fame is just, well, fame.
In social media I see bukowskis name come up the most, but that's like 1 in 10 million posts...

Dr seuss
but wasn't shakespeare paid for his poetry which was arguably not of his own hand?
Confucius is know by many for his wise quotes come couplets come poetry. though he did lead a religion his teachingins are often seen as poetical. anyway. while shakespeare was a playwright he was also a prolific poet as shown by his 151 sonnets to mention a few.

when i said famous poet i meant a poet that the most people had heard of or recognised as a poet.

my choice would be the likes of basho who was known through the ages by many in his own country and many elsewhere. same with yosa buson and kobyashi issa. [sp]. i'm not sure a modern poet would have had as much fame as an older classic poet. many poets are famous for for one poem in particular. call me a philistine but i thought of homer as a philosopher, i never new he was a poet Sad Blush



(03-27-2019, 07:22 AM)dukealien Wrote: [ -> ]My own take on the question, i.e. trying to understand what was meant by it rather than begging it with both hands...

"Famous" = known to many from his (or her) time to, and including, ours, which does *not* imply any of the many having read his or her work, and
"Poet" = famous principally for being a poet (though poetry was not necessarily the person's principal occupation).

By this composite definition, I'd include Homer (despite his likely being a composite himself) though not Shakespeare (principally known as a playwright), Carl Sandburg but not David or Mao (principally known as rulers), Tennyson and Byron but not PBUH (principally known for founding a religion, though this is a close call due to his generally accepted excellence as a poet).

We do have the problem of languages.  Schiller or Byron? Omar Khayaam or Tennyson?  Vergil or Li Bai? (I got that last one straight from DuckDuckGo, never heard of him before, but probably known to more human beings, living or dead, than any other poet.)

One test might be that when you say one name, everyone thinks "poet" (another reason Shakespeare doesn't make the cut).  And then there's the issue of quality ignored:  some of us may think Whitman was better than Tennyson, but more have heard of T than W as a poet.

So, in the Anglosphere, I suspect a survey would turn up Tennyson, Kipling, and Homer among those who were asked to "name a poet" without providing a list for multiple choice, with the nod perhaps going to Homer.  Fame is just, well, fame.
(03-27-2019, 08:47 AM)billy Wrote: [ -> ]but wasn't shakespeare paid for his poetry which was arguably not of his own hand?
...
when i said famous poet i meant a poet that the most people had heard of or recognised as a poet.

my choice would be the likes of basho who was known through the ages by many in his own country and many elsewhere. same with yosa buson and  kobyashi issa.
Does being paid disqualify one from being famous or a poet?

From my experience, any circle of non-writers I'm familiar with would not know Basho, Buson, or any Asian poet. Now I should specify that most of my circles consist of Americans in their mid-20s, but I think the poet they'd most recognize "as a poet" would be Shakespeare or Frost. Yes, Shakespeare is most known as a playwright, but many of my friends and associates would recognize one of Shakespeare's sonnets before they could recognize any poem of Whitman, and we have many more roads and buildings named for Whitman. Regarding non-English poetry, there's very that little anyone I know personally would recognize.

Fame will often depend on location and language, so perhaps that needs to be addressed more clearly as well. But there may be some small investigation we can do.
yes and i think poets like frost while universally known are known for one specific poem and we all know which one that is Big Grin
maybe the question which is the most famous poem should be asked.
(03-27-2019, 11:51 AM)billy Wrote: [ -> ]yes and i think poets like frost while universally known are known for one specific poem and we all know which one that is Big Grin
maybe the question which is the most famous poem should be asked.

Perhaps it should be - that's what I hoped to address when I asked for your definitions of "famous" and "poet."
Should we be limiting ourselves to 'famous within a circle of well-read individuals' or 'famous within non-casual-readers-of-poetry' or 'famous within other writers'?
Or should we consider famous to include only the English-speaking world?
Or should famous include worlds beyond earth?
Should fame be only considered within the poet's lifetime?

Should "poet" require that they be a poet? Or that they're most known as a poet? Or that they were or were not paid for their poetry?

Should being known for only one work be a disqualifier of fame? I wonder who is most famous for committing suicide...?

I do enjoy debating and discussing, but to eliminate confusion and needless debate over the wrong points, I like to have the terms of the discussion clearly defined (unambiguously).

My lean is still toward Frost or Shakespeare. If they're too famous for too little, I'd lean toward Milton, but then I'm limiting the circle of included individuals significantly. I'd have liked to say Dickinson, but I doubt many of my friends could quote a complete line of hers.
i think this thread could be more about a poet than a poem. and do another thread for the poem. it's a discussion thread so i don't think there's really a right or wrong choice. the guidelines were a professional poet. someone who's main work is poetry. i think Kipling is up there with them and maybe an odd romantic poet such as byron
Calling Chaucer's work as crude ramblings, while a questionable literary judgment, is not so a historical judgment. Spenser definitely is the more influential of the two, since, reading a lot of work on Augustan poets at the moment, the copies of Chaucer throughout most of history were kinda terrible, and the likes of (if I recall right) Pope and Dryden had a fairly low estimation of him.

Another questionable judgment is calling Shakespeare's plays rubbish, but this time both as literary and historical. The estimations of Shakespeare's work are variable, but two things in common are that his work is for the most part solid, and at least one or two of his plays manage to be, both in terms of being a play and in terms of being poetry, 'great'. But that's not what's being discussed. I think for a poet in this regard to be considered a 'poet' only by his profession as such terribly limits the discussion to a few, decidedly Western, decidedly modern artists, since a poet as exclusively a poet by profession didn't reallt exist until, say, some time in the late 19th century. Dryden is now primarily known as a critic and a playwright, though in his time his works, poetry and prose alike, were all part of his corpus as a 'poet', or at least as a man of letters. Schiller I know primarily through those works of his that were turned into songs, while Cowper was as popular a hymnodist as he was a plain poet. And, of course, no Ancient Greek author ever really had 'poet' as their sole 'profession', the dramatists for example had to act and direct (and were during their lifetimes probably more well known as such) at the same time, and *no* Greek poet, lyric or otherwise, could write verse without a tune.

In fact, I'd argue the distinction between 'playwright' and 'poet' we here make is manufactured, not just because many of these noted plays *are* poetry (like Homer's Iliad or Vergil's Aeneid is just a really long poem, and not anything approximating a novel), but because I think most people, when they think of at least Shakespeare, they don't just remember "Romeo and Juliet were teenaged lovers", but also "star-cross'd lovers" and "to be or not to be" -- that is, it's not just the plays as stories, settings, and characters they remember, which are elements shared by all plays prose or poetry, but it's also the plays as writing, in other words as how they are distinguished from the equally play-like, but certainly not poem-like, work of, say, Tennessee Williams. And, as many Asians as there are, the culture is not homogenous, and more people from all walks of life have been touched by the colonial/imperial ways of the West than the likes of Basho or Li Bai (which, ooh, I've actually read some of their stuff! Basho more so than the Chinese dude -- did you know that Basho didn't really write haiku, because haiku as such didn't exist in his time? he wasn't even the author to invent the distinction): Shakespeare or someone from the Bible (the Psalms are songs per se in the same way Pindar or the Homeric Hymns were songs -- aka, they're not, not even the Jews remember how they were originally sung; and King David, however legendary his biography, still has more of a biography than Homer or even Shakespeare, while having the archaeological evidence to back him up, and he is I think as known as a poet as he is a king, considering his psalms begin "A Psalm of David") are probably our best bets.

Finally, back to judgments: from what I understand, Whitman is the more popular poet than Tennyson, in the end, even in the English heart of the Anglosphere. It maybe that Tennyson's individual works are more popular, but Whitman, in his influencing the works of Eliot and Ginsberg and a lot of Hispanic authors, practically invented modern free verse, not to mention the way in which he shaped the American poetic idiom in a way Tennyson couldn't claim for the English.
^^ The English language in Chaucer’s time was crude. That’s hardly debatable. Dante lived 200 years before Chaucer and just compare the Commedia with Cant Tales. Only Chaucer made it worse by trying to imitate the Italians by making his lines rhyme. The roots of old English were in sprung rhythm which is why Beouwulf doesn’t read as badly as the Tales (be honest)
Apart from Othello and Julius Caesar, I can’t think of a single good Shakespeare tragedy / problem play
The ending of Hamlet is ridiculous by modern standards
As the ending of Romeo & Juliet
As the second half of Measure for Measure
The Winter’s Tale

Which is why Shakespeare via Charles and Mary Lamb is child abuse
The great comedies are good fun. Hamlet's ending is just that: it's ending. The rest of it is undeniably great. Macbeth and King Lear are killers. Troilus and Cressida is arguably one of the first truly modern plays. etc etc
^^ If you’re throwing David in the fight, then I’m calling upon Mohammed. And while Homer may be a bit ahead, I’d wager that more people in India have heard of Vyasa than people around the world have heard of Tennyson. If we’re talking just numbers and not how they’re distributed.

King Lear is the worst of the lot!! One good scene, and a lot of weird unrealistic situations. It’s Senecan tragedy at its worst.

Troilus is great to read, but boring to watch, fails as a play

The comedies are his best.
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