The poem Success is Counted Sweetest, is a poem written in the year 1859 by the famous American poet Emily Dickinson. The poem is composed in three stanzas with four lines each; using a rhyme scheme of ABCB, so that the last word of the second and the fourth lines rhymes. Emily Dickinson uses rhyme, imagery, metaphor, simile, analogy and paradox to tell the reader that to those who desperately desire a success but never obtains it would treasure success more than those who did.
In the very first stanza, Dickinson uses the first and the second sentence to state the main idea of the poem, Success is counted sweetest/ By those who neer succeed (Dickinson 1-2) This serves as the gist of the poem, explaining how people who have never succeed apprehend the true value of success. In the last two sentence To comprehend a nectar/requires sorest need (Dickinson 3-4) Dickinson uses a metaphor that compares the nectar to water. It is suggested in these two lines that only the ones with the Sorest need will yearn for and fight for but struggle to grab the water that is almost as sweet as the nectar. Whereas to those who have already had no need of begging for the nectar, there will be no understanding on why others have the sorest need of it.
The second stanza describes how not one of the purple (Dickinson 5) royal leaders who took the flag of victory could describe the feeling of what victory actually meant. The symbol of victory and success is represented by these lines as a flag; as in a war, the taking away of the flag symbolizes the winning of the war.
Dickinson in the third stanza gives us a battlefield scenario where two contrasting sides are described- the perspectives of both the winning and the losing sides in a war. The soldiers in the winning camp cannot and will not truly appreciate the real taste of victory; neither can they even understand what victory is. Those on the losing side; the defeated and dying however do feel what victory truly means. They can only imagine the taste and feeling of triumph, more so when they hear the jubilations of triumph from the winning sides. They are tossed into agony and anguish at the possibility of victory which they could not taste or embrace.
This poem paints a picture of what defeat and failure can inspire in us. Those on the losing side have a personal experience of what losing feels like; they will strive for success and victory with all their might when the next opportunity comes knocking. Those on the winning side most often fail to realize and empathize with the emotional dilemma experienced by the losers. They jubilate and celebrate in a frenzy, unaware that their distant strains of triumph is causing unimaginable agony and anguish to those who lost. Those who have at some point experienced failure or loss will feel some sense of empathy for those who have failed or lost. Dickinson might also have used the poem to express her personal experiences- might have tasted failure in her poetic works and uses this piece to describe her experience and to bring out the dynamic nature of human desires. She is however totally detached from the piece.
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