Connecticut State Library

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Simply click on one of the famous poets below to read an in-depth biography, articles from newspapers and magazines, videos and more. Or use the search box to the right to find poets you don’t see listed below.

“Carpe diem”

Emily Dickinson

"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?" A rhetorical question, for Emily Dickinson, the lyric poet sometimes known as the New England mystic, knew there was no other way. She spent her life creating an opus of 1,775 poems, only ten of which were published in her lifetime.

Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), poet and novelist, explored her obsessions with death, self, and nature in works that expressed her ambivalent attitudes toward the universe. Sylvia Plath was born in Boston's Memorial Hospital on October 27, 1932, to Aurelia and Otto Plath. Otto, who was a biology professor and a well-respected authority on entomology at Boston University, would later figure as a major image of persecution in his daughter's best known poems--"Daddy," "The Colossus," and "Lady Lazarus."

Langston Hughes

"I didn't know the upper class Negroes well enough to write much about them. I knew only the people I had grown up with, and they weren't the people whose shoes were always shined, who had been to Harvard, or who had heard of Bach. But they seemed to me good people, too." Born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri, Langston Hughes was for several decades the most popular Black American writer in the U.S. He died on May 22, 1967, in New York City.

Rainer Marie Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) is considered the greatest lyric poet of modern Germany. His work is marked by a mystical sense of God and death. Born in Prague on Dec. 4, 1875, Rainer Maria Rilke grew up in a middle-class milieu he called "petit bourgeois," of which he later felt ashamed. In spite of his sensitive, almost feminine nature, he was expected to become an army officer and was forced to spend 5 years (1886-1891) in the military academies of St. Pölten and Mährisch-Weisskirchen.

Anne Bradstreet

Anne Dudley Bradstreet (ca. 1612-1672) was a Puritan poet whose work portrays a deeply felt experience of American colonial life. She was the daughter and wife of Massachusetts governors. Anne Dudley, born about 1612 probably in Northampton, England, grew up in the cultivated household of the Earl of Lincoln, where her father, Thomas Dudley, was steward. Tutored by her father and availing herself of the extensive library, she was highly educated. Her later work reveals familiarity with Plutarch, Du Bartas, Sir Walter Raleigh, Quarles, Sidney, Spenser, perhaps Shakespeare, and, of course, the Bible.