Q:

What is the theme in "Success Is Counted Sweetest" by Emily Dickinson?

A:

Quick Answer

The theme of Emily Dickinson's poem "Success Is Counted Sweetest" is that doing without something makes a person appreciate its worth more than actually having it does. The theme is revealed in the first two lines of the poem which read, "Success is counted sweetest / By those who ne'er succeed." In other words, no one appreciates the feeling of success better than a person who experiences failure.

 Know More

Full Answer

Those who do without in this poem do not do so by decision. They want what it is they do not have and, by not having it, want it even more. The poem goes on to say that to understand fully the satisfaction and joy of victory, one must suffer defeat and have to listen to the joyous cries of the winner. Dickinson sends a similar message in her poem "Water, Is Taught by Thirst," in which she alludes to the fact that only the truly thirsty appreciate all that water offers. This theme is a common one in everyday language. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" is a popular saying with similar meaning. Emily Dickinson lived a fairly reclusive life and went unrecognized in her work. She knew that her life was one of denial, a state she apparently chose for herself. This lifestyle, however, made her more sensitive and more poetic.

Learn more about Poetry

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What did Emily Dickinson notably accomplish?

    A:

    Emily Dickinson's most notable accomplishments include being one of the most prolific American poets, composing nearly 1,800 poems. Since her death, she has also become one of America's best-known and highly respected poets.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How many poems did Emily Dickinson write in her lifetime?

    A:

    Emily Dickinson wrote about 1,800 poems by the time she died in 1886 at age 56. Only a dozen were published during her life, and until her unpublished poetry was discovered in the 20th century she was unknown to literary scholars.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is "The Bustle in a House" by Emily Dickinson about?

    A:

    "The Bustle in a House" by Emily Dickinson is about the resumption of everyday life following a bereavement. The events of the poem appear to take place on the morning after a death and, as such, it has been positioned by some critics as a direct sequel to Dickinson's other poem about death, "The Last Night that She Lived."

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What inspired Emily Dickinson to write poetry?

    A:

    According to Biography.com, an important early inspiration for Emily Dickinson was Leonard Humphrey, the principal of Amherst Academy, where she attended school. A biography at the Poetry Foundation points out that the classes she attended at Amherst gave her the richness of detail found in her poems, and that her poetry gave her a means to express herself despite the strictures imposed upon women in the 1800s.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore