That Shakespeare is one of the best poets in history is taken for granted by enough people for me to suppose it true as any value-judgement can be. That he is, for this, a significantly greater poet than any of his English-language predecessors and successors is not often stressed. He is outclassed in epic poetry, because he did not consider it worth his money-making time; but in dramatic and lyric poetry he excels Milton, Chaucer, Keats, Eliot and Hill. Except I do not wish to make this generic distinction: in the fabric of the poetry, the craft or 'beauty' of it — whether blank verse or sonnet — he shows himself a body above the rest, an elite of one. Shakespeare is the most successful writer in the world, and among all artists the best qualified, most likely, to rank in an imagined top 5. His work is embassy of our kind, its achievement of human potential an exemplar; of our best means of trapping death, the rush of days, he is our truest genius.
by Hull Cogan