Friday, September 26, 2014

"How Did You Die?" by Edmund Vance Cooke

From time to time, I come across a poem that is inspirational and powerful. I've included links at the bottom of this page to other poems I've posted in the past.

Today, I'm posting Edmund Vance Cooke's poem for your knowledge/enjoyment/inspiration. I recently read this poem in Col. Jeff Cooper's "Quoth the Raven - Seventeen Points to Ponder".


Edmund Vance Cooke was born on June 5th 1866, in Port Denver, Ontario, Canada. His first job after leaving school was in a Sewing Machine Factory. In 1893 he left that job to earn a living as a poet, writer, and public speaker. He published his first book of poems, A Patch of Pansies in 1894 and went on to publish a further 15 books of poetry and several books for children. He married Lilith Castleberry in 1898 and they had five children. He became a broadcaster on station, WWJ in Detroit broadcasting his poems live to thousands of listeners. Cooke died in Cleveland, Ohio on December 18th 1932.

How Did You Die?
by Edmund Vance Cooke

Did you tackle the trouble that came your way
    With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
    With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble's a ton, or a trouble's an ounce,
    Or trouble is what you make it.
And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,
    But only how did you take it?

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what's that?
    Come up with a smiling face.
It's nothing against you to fall down flat,
    But to lie there–that's the disgrace.
The harder you're thrown, why the harder you bounce;
    Be proud of your blackened eye.
It isn't the fact that your licked that counts;
    Its how did you fight and why?

And though you be done to death, what then?
    If you battled the best you could;
If you played your part in the world of men,
    Why the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
    And whether he's slow or spry,
It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
    But only how did you die?

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