‘Success’ a poem by Bessie Anderson Stanley

The Friday poem this week is ‘Success’ by Bessie Anderson Stanley. Written in 1905, it was the prize winning submission for an essay contest answering the question, ‘What constitutes success?’. Often misattributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson and Robert Louis Stevenson, researchers have confirmed that Ms. Stanley is the original author. The poem appears on her headstone in the Lincoln, Kansas cemetery.

The definition of success is a personal signature, linked to an individual’s value system. Consider your definition as you read ‘Success’.


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.

Bessie Anderson Stanley 1904

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