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!

by Emily Dickinson

Comments (1)

John Clare, the son of a farm laborer, called the 'peasant poet' in London, encouraged by the owner of the estate where he lived, lived a life full of sorrow and mental illness. Enclosure, the selling off of the common lands, symbolized to him the death of Eden, particularly his own personal Eden of his youth. This poem is a summing up of his feelings about all this, and may be his best work. It certainly is my favorite, so far. And John Clare is one of my favorite poets anyway. His connection to the land is so complete, natural, unaffected like so many others.