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“Success is counted sweetest” is a poem written by Emily Dickinson but published anonymously in the Brooklyn Daily in Union, 1864. This poem was written in 1859 with three stanzas of ABCB rhyme schemes. Success in a person’s life is a valuable possession which he/she cannot possess all the time. The recurrent victories and deceptive failure always remain contrary to occasional victory and frequent failures. Success is a personal quest which everyone wants to embrace exhaustively. To embrace it gracefully we need to encounter failures many times because failure is a part of success. Come let’s perceive the pain of the defeated one to know the significance of success in our life.


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!


The poet tries to emphasis on the fact that one who meets with failures can only embrace the success as a rare possession. Likewise, people who always fail in their life are the ones who truly appreciate the success as their sweetest happiness. To completely understand the value of success and appreciate its essence, we really need to have a desperate necessity. Battlefield is either of win or loss, triumph or defeat. In this poem, the poet says that soldiery (conquering/victorious army) who win and take the flag today will not have a clear understanding of the meaning of victory.

In the last four she says, those soldiers, who got defeated and lie dying on the battlefield, overhear the voices of celebration in the victory parade from faraway. This provokes a mental anguish break out within them. Because it’s them who really understand, what success is?

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