What they say about music - that dead musicians outshine the living - could be applied to literature, i.e. that which has been written down and preserved.
While dead composers such as J.S. Bach in my view will never be surpassed, offering a bottomless well of creative inspiration and influence, the same could be said of writers such as Homer, Plato and Shakespeare.
Homer is my go-to poet - I have read the Iliad a good five times at least - and I delight in Plato's dialectical prose which shines in its Greek, child-like simplicity, whilst grappling with complex questions.
I have struggled more with appreciating Shakespeare, not being comfortable with reading theatre scripts, partly because theatre is not an art form that I enjoy, and generally preferring the pre-Christian Greek to the late Middle-Age English poetic spirit.
Some day maybe.