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Short poem

Edmund Vance Cooke (1866-1932)

How Did You Die?

              1Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
              2    With a resolute heart and cheerful?
              3Or hide your face from the light of day
              4    With a craven soul and fearful?
              5Oh, a trouble's a ton, or a trouble's an ounce,
              6    Or a trouble is what you make it,
              7And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,
              8    But only how did you take it?

              9You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what's that?
            10    Come up with a smiling face.
            11It's nothing against you to fall down flat,
            12    But to lie there -- that's disgrace.
            13The harder you're thrown, why the higher you bounce;
            14    Be proud of your blackened eye!
            15It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts,
            16    It's how did you fight --  and why?

            17And though you be done to the death, what then?
            18    If you battled the best you could,
            19If you played your part in the world of men,
            20    Why, the Critic will call it good.
            21Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
            22    And whether he's slow or spry,
            23It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
            24    But only how did you die?

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Impertinent Poems (New York: Dodge, 1907): 103. LE C7727imp Robarts Library
First publication date: 1903
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/20

Rhyme: ababcdcd efefcgcg ...

Other poems by Edmund Vance Cooke