Poetic controversy: Success

Success is one of my favourite poems which has been attributed to Ralph Waldo Emmerson (one of my favourite authors, poets and intellectuals). According to this website, Emmerson did not write the poem. The  version attributed to Emmerson is a (modern) variant of a poem Bessie Stanley wrote in 1905.  The Bessie Stanley version appears below.

“What Constitutes Success”
By Bessie Stanley (1905)

He has achieved success
who has lived well,
laughed often, and loved much;
who has enjoyed the trust of pure women,
the respect of intelligent men
and the love of little children;
who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
who has left the world better than he found it
whether by an improved poppy,
a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty
or failed to express it;
who has always looked for the best in others
and given them the best he had;
whose life was an inspiration;
whose memory a benediction.


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