Treasure Island

Emily Dickinson

(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886 / Amherst / Massachusetts)

Success is Counted Sweetest


Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of Victory

As he defeated--dying--
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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  • Eric Fang (1/27/2014 10:07:00 PM)

    In the poem “Success is counted on sweetness, Emily Dickinson strongly supports that in order to understand true success, you need to be someone who constantly fails and gets defeated. (Report) Reply

  • Penis Mcgee (12/10/2013 3:35:00 PM)

    I think that she is expressing how she knows what sucess is because she was not successful in her lifetime, but after she died, she became well known. (Report) Reply

  • Hannah Shealy (12/10/2012 12:21:00 PM)

    This poem is saying that if you want to know what it's like to win ask the one who lost. (Report) Reply

  • Erik Andersen (2/8/2012 9:15:00 PM)

    This is the opposite of sour grapes fable. The idea of victory is sweeter to those who loose than it is in reality to those who win. (Report) Reply

  • Erik Andersen (2/8/2012 9:06:00 PM)

    I think it says that those who don't succeed imagine that it taste sweeter then it does for those who succeed and do taste it. (Report) Reply

  • Enn Kay (3/28/2010 8:28:00 AM)

    Mwah! Mwah! This poem encourages me a lot, to strive for success.And I aspire that people similarly perceive this text. (Report) Reply

  • Trent Delomel (11/13/2005 10:56:00 PM)

    Well...Emily Dickinson went straight to the point on this one and let us decide how to end this story. She describes that failures in life, lack of success, is what makes the actual success so sweet the lack of something to let it be found, just like saying if you have never lost hope how could you ever find it. She puts it very straight to the point seperating the winners and losers each still complementing the other. The winner sits with his flag atop the mountain of success and the loser left dying, never leaving any stressed detail out, a short but strong poem (Report) Reply

  • Alex Heine (10/19/2005 6:38:00 PM)

    No comments? well, i believe this poem is one of her bests. it illustrates that the victor may not always have the sweetest of success. The defeated longs for it the most. Imagine: running 2 miles, without water, in 100 degree weather. Your main desire is, 'GIVE ME WATER! ' of perhaps to stop running. either way the desire you feel is unbarible, you want it so bad. that sort of desire is what she is describing, the desire that you just can't have but when you get it its most glorious. like the tortoise that defeated the egotistical hair, 'success is counted sweetness.' (Report) Reply

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