Success is Counted Sweetest Summary by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is considered as one of the most acclaimed 19th century American poets. She explored her own spirituality through poignant verses and personal poetry. She was born on 1830 to an affluent family of Amherst, Massachusetts. Dickinson’s interest lied on philosophy, Geology, Latin and Botany apart from poetry.

Success is Counted Sweetest is a philosophical poem, whose main theme is conjured in the following line: Success if only hard earned actually matters in life! She supports the thought, never judge a person’s success by how high he rises in life; rather judge it by the difficulties he overcame!

Success is counted sweetest

By those who ne’er succeed

To comprehend a nectar

Requires sorest need

1) Counted sweetest refers to something that is pricey

2) Nectar refers to the drink of Gods

3) Sorest need refers to the fact of accepting failure

The actual importance of success can be felt and understood (Success is counted sweetest by) whose who have failed in the attempt to pursue the same! Those who have attained success through less effort can never understand the “perception of being successful”. If you’re to truly feel the essence of success (comprehend a nectar) you need to pass through a phase of sustained failure, ultimately reaching the level of true success!

No one of the purple Host

Who took the Flag today

Can tell the definition

So clear of Victory

1) Purple is considered as a royal color and the phrase “purple host” symbolically represents the intensification of success through pomp and glory as often witness as a post battle winning picturesque.

2) ..the Flag today refers to the victorious troop marching with the high raised flags

No one from the victorious side can actually define how it feels like to be successful in a battle! Victory or success often accompanies sheer luck and the person thus successful misses the real less of success! This very stanza reminds me of the tagline of the movie, The Lord of the Rings


Success itself is expressed through the loss! Only the defeated can understand the true value of success!

As he defeated- dying-

On whose forbidden ear

The distant strains of triumph

Burst agonized and clear

1) The ears of the defeated soldiers can only hear the echoes of their opponent’s success (and their failure)! Anything else is forbidden to their ears

2) Strains of triumph refers to the worries and anxieties they undergo on hearing shouts of their opponent’s success!

3) Burst agonized refers to extreme pain and despair

Defeated in the battle, the soldiers are on the verge of death. During the battle he might have given his hundred per cent and subsequently changed his warfare strategy a number of times only to attain success! However his hope could not be realized! His ear could vaguely interpret the sound of triumph of his opponent. This very inner feeling of pain and emptiness at the eve of death further clarifies his perception of success! Finally he dies in pain!

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