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Best Famous Success Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Success poems. This is a select list of the best famous Success poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Success poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of success poems.

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See also: Best Member Poems

by Edward Estlin (E E) Cummings | |

Humanity i love you

Humanity i love you
because you would rather black the boots of
success than enquire whose soul dangles from his
watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both

parties and because you 
unflinchingly applaud all
songs containing the words country home and
mother when sung at the old howard

Humanity i love you because
when you're hard up you pawn your
intelligence to buy a drink and when
you're flush pride keeps 

you from the pawn shops and
because you are continually committing
nuisances but more
especially in your own house

Humanity i love you because you 
are perpetually putting the secret of
life in your pants and forgetting
it's there and sitting down

on it
and because you are 
forever making poems in the lap
of death Humanity

i hate you

by | |

Ballade: In Favour Of Those Called Decadents And Symbolists Translation of Paul Verlaines Poem: Ballade

for Léon Vanier*

(The texts I use for my translations are from: Yves-Alain Favre, Ed.
Paul Verlaine: Œuvres Poétiques Complètes.
Paris: Robert Laffont,1992, XCIX-939p.
) Some few in all this Paris: We live off pride, yet flat broke we’re Even if with the bottle a bit too free We drink above all fresh water Being very sparing when taken with hunger.
With other fine fare and wines of high-estate Likewise with beauty: sour-tempered never.
We are the writers of good taste.
Phoebé when all the cats gray be Highly sharpened to a point much harsher Our bodies nourrished by glory Hell licks its lips and in ambush does cower And with his dart Phoebus pierces us ever The night cradling us through dreamy waste Strewn with seeds of peach beds over.
We are the writers of good taste.
A good many of the best minds rally Holding high Man’s standard: toffee-nosed scoffer And Lemerre* retains with success poetry’s destiny.
More than one poet then helter-skelter Sought to join the rest through the narrow fissure; But Vanier at the very end made haste The only lucky one to assume the rôle of Fisher*.
We are the writers of good taste.
ENVOI Even if our stock exchange tends to dither Princes hold sway: gentle folk and the divining caste.
Whatever one might say or pours forth the preacher, We are the writers of good taste.
*One of Verlaine’s publishers who first published his near-collected works at 19, quai Saint-Michel, Paris-V.
* Alphonse Lemerre (1838-1912) , one of Verlaine’s publishers at 47, Passage Choiseul, Paris, where from 1866 onwards the Parnassians met regularly.
*Vanier first specialised in articles for fishing as a sport.
© T.
Wignesan – Paris,2013

by Taja Kramberger | |

There is no Fatwa in this Land

For Taslima Nasrin, in sisterhood
There is no fatwa in this land,
what are you thinking,
this is Europe.
A place without borders and without internal wrinkles, without possibilities for asylum and exile.
There is no fatwa in this land – it is divided into thousands of small conspiracies, tiny murders per partes, which seem like coincidental misfortunes and sap your blood, drop by drop.
There is no fatwa in this land, what are you thinking, this is Europe.
No one foresaw the exit from Eden, no one is responsible for it.
There is no fatwa in this land, it is replaced by countless cunning tattling friendships, humiliations at the workplace, the disabling of every shift, treading in place in a thick, impassable ether, in a treasury where your every move crosses a laser beam five times.
The mechanisms for the prevention of breathing multiply, the windpipe squeezed just enough for several molecules of oxygen to enter.
There is no fatwa in this land, what are you thinking, this is Europe.
A sovereign union of the poor and the tycoons, no more borders, but also no decency or dignity.
There is no fatwa in this land, but when you die, we will cash in your death as well, sell it five times over to raise its value.
After death we will make you immortal, now you be quiet and leave us your achievements and success.
Did you mention asylum or exile? Why? There is no fatwa in this land.
© Taja Kramberger, Z roba klifa / From the Edge of a Cliff, CSK, Ljubljana, 2011 © Translation by Špela Drnovšek Zorko, 2012

More great poems below...

by Petrarch | |



L' alma mia fiamma oltra le belle bella.


My noble flame—more fair than fairest are
Whom kind Heaven here has e'er in favour shown—
Before her time, alas for me! has flown
To her celestial home and parent star.
[Pg 251]I seem but now to wake; wherein a bar
She placed on passion 'twas for good alone,
As, with a gentle coldness all her own,
She waged with my hot wishes virtuous war.
My thanks on her for such wise care I press,
That with her lovely face and sweet disdain
She check'd my love and taught me peace to gain.
O graceful artifice! deserved success!
I with my fond verse, with her bright eyes she,
Glory in her, she virtue got in me.

by Petrarch | |



Io pensava assai destro esser sull' ale.


I thought me apt and firm of wing to rise
(Not of myself, but him who trains us all)
In song, to numbers fitting the fair thrall
Which Love once fasten'd and which Death unties.
Slow now and frail, the task too sorely tries,
As a great weight upon a sucker small:
"Who leaps," I said, "too high may midway fall:
Man ill accomplishes what Heaven denies.
So far the wing of genius ne'er could fly—
Poor style like mine and faltering tongue much less—
As Nature rose, in that rare fabric, high.
Love follow'd Nature with such full success
In gracing her, no claim could I advance
Even to look, and yet was bless'd by chance.

by Louisa May Alcott | |


 Mysterious death! who in a single hour 
Life's gold can so refine 
And by thy art divine 
Change mortal weakness to immortal power! 

Bending beneath the weight of eighty years 
Spent with the noble strife 
of a victorious life 
We watched her fading heavenward, through our tears.
But ere the sense of loss our hearts had wrung A miracle was wrought; And swift as happy thought She lived again -- brave, beautiful, and young.
Age, pain, and sorrow dropped the veils they wore And showed the tender eyes Of angels in disguise, Whose discipline so patiently she bore.
The past years brought their harvest rich and fair; While memory and love, Together, fondly wove A golden garland for the silver hair.
How could we mourn like those who are bereft, When every pang of grief found balm for its relief In counting up the treasures she had left?-- Faith that withstood the shocks of toil and time; Hope that defied despair; Patience that conquered care; And loyalty, whose courage was sublime; The great deep heart that was a home for all-- Just, eloquent, and strong In protest against wrong; Wide charity, that knew no sin, no fall; The spartan spirit that made life so grand, Mating poor daily needs With high, heroic deeds, That wrested happiness from Fate's hard hand.
We thought to weep, but sing for joy instead, Full of the grateful peace That follows her release; For nothing but the weary dust lies dead.
Oh, noble woman! never more a queen Than in the laying down Of sceptre and of crown To win a greater kingdom, yet unseen; Teaching us how to seek the highest goal, To earn the true success -- To live, to love, to bless -- And make death proud to take a royal soul.

by Emma Lazarus | |


 Oft have I brooded on defeat and pain, 
The pathos of the stupid, stumbling throng.
These I ignore to-day and only long To pour my soul forth in one trumpet strain, One clear, grief-shattering, triumphant song, For all the victories of man's high endeavor, Palm-bearing, laurel deeds that live forever, The splendor clothing him whose will is strong.
Hast thou beheld the deep, glad eyes of one Who has persisted and achieved? Rejoice! On naught diviner shines the all-seeing sun.
Salute him with free heart and choral voice, 'Midst flippant, feeble crowds of spectres wan, The bold, significant, successful man.

by Adrienne Rich | |

Rural Reflections

 This is the grass your feet are planted on.
You paint it orange or you sing it green, But you have never found A way to make the grass mean what you mean.
A cloud can be whatever you intend: Ostrich or leaning tower or staring eye.
But you have never found A cloud sufficient to express the sky.
Get out there with your splendid expertise; Raymond who cuts the meadow does not less.
Inhuman nature says: Inhuman patience is the true success.
Human impatience trips you as you run; Stand still and you must lie.
It is the grass that cuts the mower down; It is the cloud that swallows up the sky.

by William Strode | |

A New Years Gift

 We are prevented; you whose Presence is
A Publick New-yeares gift, a Common bliss
To all that Love or Feare, give no man leave
To vie a Gift but first he shall receave;
Like as the Persian Sun with golden Eies
First shines upon the Priest and Sacrifice.
Ile on howere; May this yeare happier prove Than all the Golden Age when Vertue strove With nothing but with Vertue; may it bee Such as the Dayes of Saturnes Infancy.
May every Tide and Season joyntly fitt All your Intents and your Occasions hitt: May every Grayne of Sand within your Glass Number a fresh content before it pass.
And when success comes on, stand then each howre Like Josuah's Day, & grow to three or fowre: At last when this yeare rounds and wheeles away, Bee still the next yeare like the old yeares Day.

by Robert William Service | |


 You ask me what I call Success -
It is, I wonder, Happiness?

It is not wealth, it is not fame,
Nor rank, nor power nor honoured name.
It is not triumph in the Arts - Best-selling books or leading parts.
It is not plaudits of the crowd, The flame of flags, processions proud.
The panegyrics of the Press are but the mirage of Success.
You may have all of them, my friend, Yet be a failure in the end.
I've know proud Presidents of banks Who've fought their way up from the ranks, And party leaders of renown Who played as boys in Shantytown.
Strong, self-made men, yet seek to trace Benignity in any face; Grim purpose, mastery maybe, Yet never sweet serenity; Never contentment, thoughts that bless - That mellow joy I deem Success.
The haply seek some humble hearth, Quite poor in goods yet rich in mirth, And see a man of common clay Watching his little ones at play; A laughing fellow full of cheer, Health, strength and faith that mocks at fear; Who for his happiness relies On joys he lights in other eyes; He loves his home and envies none.
Who happier beneath the sun? Aye, though he walk in lowly ways, Shining Success has crowned his days.

by Robert William Service | |

Carry On

 It's easy to fight when everything's right,
 And you're mad with the thrill and the glory;
It's easy to cheer when victory's near,
 And wallow in fields that are gory.
It's a different song when everything's wrong, When you're feeling infernally mortal; When it's ten against one, and hope there is none, Buck up, little soldier, and chortle: Carry on! Carry on! There isn't much punch in your blow.
You're glaring and staring and hitting out blind; You're muddy and bloody, but never you mind.
Carry on! Carry on! You haven't the ghost of a show.
It's looking like death, but while you've a breath, Carry on, my son! Carry on! And so in the strife of the battle of life It's easy to fight when you're winning; It's easy to slave, and starve and be brave, When the dawn of success is beginning.
But the man who can meet despair and defeat With a cheer, there's the man of God's choosing; The man who can fight to Heaven's own height Is the man who can fight when he's losing.
Carry on! Carry on! Things never were looming so black.
But show that you haven't a cowardly streak, And though you're unlucky you never are weak.
Carry on! Carry on! Brace up for another attack.
It's looking like hell, but -- you never can tell: Carry on, old man! Carry on! There are some who drift out in the deserts of doubt, And some who in brutishness wallow; There are others, I know, who in piety go Because of a Heaven to follow.
But to labour with zest, and to give of your best, For the sweetness and joy of the giving; To help folks along with a hand and a song; Why, there's the real sunshine of living.
Carry on! Carry on! Fight the good fight and true; Believe in your mission, greet life with a cheer; There's big work to do, and that's why you are here.
Carry on! Carry on! Let the world be the better for you; And at last when you die, let this be your cry: Carry on, my soul! Carry on!

by Robert William Service | |


 At school I never gained a prize,
Proving myself the model ass;
Yet how I watched the wistful eyes,
And cheered my mates who topped the class.
No envy in my heart I found, Yet bone was worthier to own Those precious books in vellum bound, Than I, a dreamer and a drone.
No prize at school I ever gained (Shirking my studies, I suppose): Yes, I remember being caned For lack of love of Latin prose.
For algebra I won no praise, In grammar I was far from bright: Yet, oh, how Poetry would raise In me a rapture of delight! I never gained a prize at school; The dullard's cap adorned my head; My masters wrote me down a fool, And yet - I'm sorry they are dead.
I'd like to go to them and say: "Yours is indeed a tricky trade.
My honoured classmates, where are they? Yet I, the dunce, brave books have made.
" Oh, I am old and worn and grey, And maybe have not long to live; Yet 'tis my hope at some Prize Day At my old school the Head will give A tome or two of mine to crown Some pupil's well-deserved success - Proving a scapegrace and a clown May win at last to worthiness.

by Robert William Service | |

The Sum-Up

 It is not power and fame
 That make success;
It is not rank or name
 Rate happiness.
It is not honour due Nor pile of pelf: The pay-off is: Did you Enjoy yourself? A pal of days gone by I reckon more Of a success than I Who've gold in store His life, though none too long, Was never dull: Of woman, wine and song Bill had his full.
Friend, you are a success If you can say: "A heap of happiness Has come my way.
No cheers have made me glad, No wealth I've won; But oh how I have had A heap of FUN!"

by Robert William Service | |

Shakespeare And Cervantes

 Obit 23rd April 1616

Is it not strange that on this common date,
Two titans of their age, aye of all Time,
Together should renounce this mortal state,
And rise like gods, unsullied and sublime?
Should mutually render up the ghost,
And hand n hand join Jove's celestial host?

What wondrous welcome from the scribes on high!
Homer and Virgil would be waiting there;
Plato and Aristotle standing nigh;
Petrarch and Dante greet the peerless pair:
And as in harmony they make their bow,
Horace might quip: "Great timing, you'll allow.
" Imagine this transcendant team arrive At some hilarious banquet of the gods! Their nations battled when they were alive, And they were bitter foes - but what's the odd? Actor and soldier, happy hand in hand, By death close-linked, like loving brothers stand.
But how diverse! Our Will had gold and gear, Chattels and land, the starshine of success; The bleak Castilian fought with casque and spear, Passing his life in prisons - more or less.
The Bard of Avon was accounted rich; Cervantes often bedded in a ditch.
Yet when I slough this flesh, if I could meet By sweet, fantastic fate one of these two, In languorous Elysian retreat, Which would I choose? Fair reader, which would you? Well, though our William more divinely wrote, By gad! the lousy Spaniard has my vote.

by Robert William Service | |


 I know how father's strap would feel,
If ever I were caught,
So mother's jam I did not steal,
Though theft was in my thought.
Then turned fourteen and full of pitch, Of love I was afraid, And did not dare to dally with Our pretty parlour maid.
And so it is and always was, The path of rectitude I've followed all my life because The Parson said I should.
The dread of hell-fire held me straight When I was wont to stray, And though my guts I often hate, I walk the narrow way.
I might have been a bandit or A Casanovish blade, But always I have prospered for I've always been afraid; Ay, fear's behind the best of us And schools us for success, And that is why I'm virtuous, And happy - more or less.
So let me hail that mighty power That goads me to be good, And makes me cannily to cower Amid foolhardihood; Though I be criminal in gain, My virtue a veneer, I thank the God who keeps me sane, And shields me from distress and pain, And thrifts me on to golden gain, Almighty Fear.

by Robert William Service | |

A Song Of Success

 Ho! we were strong, we were swift, we were brave.
Youth was a challenge, and Life was a fight.
All that was best in us gladly we gave, Sprang from the rally, and leapt for the height.
Smiling is Love in a foam of Spring flowers: Harden our hearts to him -- on let us press! Oh, what a triumph and pride shall be ours! See where it beacons, the star of success! Cares seem to crowd on us -- so much to do; New fields to conquer, and time's on the wing.
Grey hairs are showing, a wrinkle or two; Somehow our footstep is losing its spring.
Pleasure's forsaken us, Love ceased to smile; Youth has been funeralled; Age travels fast.
Sometimes we wonder: is it worth while? There! we have gained to the summit at last.
Aye, we have triumphed! Now must we haste, Revel in victory .
why! what is wrong? Life's choicest vintage is flat to the taste -- Are we too late? Have we laboured too long? Wealth, power, fame we hold .
ah! but the truth: Would we not give this vain glory of ours For one mad, glad year of glorious youth, Life in the Springtide, and Love in the flowers.

by Robert William Service | |

Making Good

 No man can be a failure if he thinks he's a success;
he may not own his roof-tree overhead,
He may be on his uppers and have hocked his evening dress -
(Financially speaking - in the red)
He may have chronic shortage to repay the old home mortgage,
And almost be a bankrupt in his biz.
, But though he skips his dinner, And each day he's growing thinner, If he thinks he is a winner, Then he is.
But when I say Success I mean the sublimated kind; A man may gain it yet be on the dole.
To me it's music of the heart and sunshine of the mind, Serenity and sweetness of the soul.
You may not have a brace of bucks to jingle in your jeans, Far less the dough to buy a motor car; But though the row you're hoeing May be grim, ungodly going, If you think the skies are glowing - Then they are.
For a poor man may be wealthy and a millionaire may fail, It all depends upon the point of view.
It's the sterling of your spirit tips the balance of the scale, It's optimism, and it's up to you.
For what I figure as success is simple Happiness, The consummate contentment of your mood: You may toil with brain and sinew, And though little wealth is win you, If there's health and hope within you - You've made good.

by Robert William Service | |


 And is it not a gesture grand
 To drink oneself to death?
Oh sure 'tis I can understand,
 Being of sober breath.
And so I do not sing success, But dirge the damned who fall, And who contempt for life express Through alcohol.
Of Stephen Foster and of Poe, Of Burns and Wilde I think; And weary men who dared to go The wanton way of drink.
Strange mortals blind to bitter blame, And deaf to loud delight, Who from the shades of sin and shame Enstar our night.
Among those dupes of destiny Add D.
to my list, Although his verse you may agree Leaves one in mental mist .
Oh ye mad poets, loth of life, Who peace in death divine, Pass not by pistol, poison, knife,-- Drown, drown in wine!

by Robert William Service | |


 Dusting my books I spent a busy day:
Not ancient toes, time-hallowed and unread,
but modern volumes, classics in their way,
whose makers now are numbered with the dead;
Men of a generation more than mine,
With whom I tattled, battled and drank wine.
I worshipped them, rejoiced in their success, Grudging them not the gold that goes with fame.
I thought them near-immortal, I confess, And naught could dim the glory of each name.
How I perused their pages with delight! .
To-day I peer with sadness in my sight.
For, death has pricked each to a flat balloon.
A score of years have gone, they're clean forgot.
Who would have visioned such a dreary doom? By God! I'd like to burn the blasted lot.
Only, old books are mighty hard to burn: They char, they flicker and their pages turn.
And as you stand to poke them in the flame, You see a living line that stabs the heart.
Brave writing that! It seems a cursed shame That to a bonfire it should play it's part.
Poor book! You're crying, and you're not alone: Some day someone will surely burn my own.
No, I will dust my books and put them by, Yet never look into their leaves again; For scarce a soul remembers them save I, Re-reading them would only give me pain.
So I will sigh, and say with curling lip: Futility! Thy name is authorship.

by Robert William Service | |

To A Stuffed Shirt

 On the tide you ride head high,
Like a whale 'mid little fishes;
I should envy you as I
Help my wife to wash the dishes.
Yet frock-coat and stove-pipe hat Cannot hide your folds of fat.
You are reckoned a success, And the public praise you win; There's your picture in the Press, Pouchy eyes and triple chin.
Wealth,--of it you fairly stink; Health,--what does your Doctor think? Dignity is phoney stuff.
Who is dignified deep down? Strip the pants off, call the bluff, Common clay are king and clown.
Let a bulging belly be Your best bid for dignity.
Miserable millionaire! For indulgence you must pay.
Yet there's salvation in prayer,-- Down on your fat knees and pray.
Know that with your dying breath There is dignity in death.

by Robert William Service | |


 He gave a picture exhibition,
Hiring a little empty shop.
Above its window: FREE ADMISSION Cajoled the passers-by to stop; Just to admire - no need to purchase, Although his price might have been low: But no proud artist ever urges Potential buyers at his show.
Of course he badly needed money, But more he needed moral aid.
Some people thought his pictures funny, Too ultra-modern, I'm afraid.
His painting was experimental, Which no poor artist can afford- That is, if he would pay the rental And guarantee his roof and board.
And so some came and saw and sniggered, And some a puzzled brow would crease; And some objected: "Well, I'm jiggered!" What price Picasso and Matisse? The artist sensitively quivered, And stifled many a bitter sigh, But day by day his hopes were shivered For no one ever sought to buy.
And then he had a brilliant notion: Half of his daubs he labeled: SOLD.
And lo! he viewed with queer emotion A public keen and far from cold.
Then (strange it is beyond the telling), He saw the people round him press: His paintings went - they still are selling.
Well, nothing succeeds like success.

by Robert William Service | |

Amateur Poet

 You see that sheaf of slender books
Upon the topmost shelf,
At which no browser ever looks,
Because they're by .
myself; They're neatly bound in navy blue, But no one ever heeds; Their print is clear and candid too, Yet no one ever reads.
Poor wistful books! How much they cost To me in time and gold! I count them now as labour lost, For none I ever sold; No copy could I give away, For all my friends would shrink, And look at me as if to say: "What waste of printer's ink!" And as I gaze at them on high, Although my eyes are sad, I cannot help but breathe a sigh To think what joy I had - What ecstasy as I would seek To make my rhyme come right, And find at last the phrase unique Flash fulgent in my sight.
Maybe that rapture was my gain Far more than cheap success; So I'll forget my striving vain, And blot out bitterness.
Oh records of my radiant youth, No broken heart I'll rue, For all my best of love and truth Is there, alive in you.

by Robert William Service | |

Kail Yard Bard

 A very humble pen I ply
 Beneath a cottage thatch;
And in the sunny hours I try
 To till my cabbage patch;
And in the gloaming glad am I
 To lift the latch.
I do not plot to pile up pelf, With jowl and belly fat; To simple song I give myself, And seek no gain at that: Content if milk is on the shelf To feed the cat.
I joy that haleness I possess, Though fame has passed me by; And see such gold of happiness A-shining in the sky, I wonder who has won success, Proud men or I? I do not grieve that I am poor, And by the world unknown; Free as the wind, serene and sure, In peace I live alone.
'Tis better to be bard obscure Than King on Throne.

by James Tate | |

Success Comes To Cow Creek

 I sit on the tracks,
a hundred feet from
earth, fifty from the
Gerald is inching toward me as grim, slow, and determined as a season, because he has no trade and wants none.
It's been nine months since I last listened to his fate, but I know what he will say: he's the fire hydrant of the underdog.
When he reaches my point above the creek, he sits down without salutation, and spits profoundly out past the edge, and peeks for meaning in the ripple it brings.
He scowls.
He speaks: when you walk down any street you see nothing but coagulations of shit and vomit, and I'm sick of it.
I suggest suicide; he prefers murder, and spits again for the sake of all the great devout losers.
A conductor's horn concerto breaks the air, and we, two doomed pennies on the track, shove off and somersault like anesthetized fleas, ruffling the ideal locomotive poised on the water with our light, dry bodies.
Gerald shouts terrifically as he sails downstream like a young man with a destination.
I swim toward shore as fast as my boots will allow; as always, neglecting to drown.

by Edward Taylor | |

Success Comes To Cow Creek

 I sit on the tracks,
a hundred feet from
earth, fifty from the
Gerald is inching toward me as grim, slow, and determined as a season, because he has no trade and wants none.
It's been nine months since I last listened to his fate, but I know what he will say: he's the fire hydrant of the underdog.
When he reaches my point above the creek, he sits down without salutation, and spits profoundly out past the edge, and peeks for meaning in the ripple it brings.
He scowls.
He speaks: when you walk down any street you see nothing but coagulations of shit and vomit, and I'm sick of it.
I suggest suicide; he prefers murder, and spits again for the sake of all the great devout losers.
A conductor's horn concerto breaks the air, and we, two doomed pennies on the track, shove off and somersault like anesthetized fleas, ruffling the ideal locomotive poised on the water with our light, dry bodies.
Gerald shouts terrifically as he sails downstream like a young man with a destination.
I swim toward shore as fast as my boots will allow; as always, neglecting to drown.