“To laugh often and love much” has always been one of my favorite quotes. I’ve seen so many different versions, including one written as prose, and wondered how that could be. And I’ve always thought they were the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Well, today I found out that the writing is not only misquoted, but is also misattributed.
I learned that it was indeed a poem, not prose. That it was written by Bessie Anderson Stanley. That she wrote it in 1904 for a contest by Brown Book Magazine. And that it was the winning entry. The prize? Cash. $250. Enough to pay off her home mortgage and more.
Here is Bessie Anderson Stanley’s “Success.”
He has achieved success
who has lived well,
laughed often, and loved much;
who has enjoyed the trust of pure women,
the respect of intelligent men and
the love of little children;
who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
who has left the world better than he found it
whether by an improved poppy,
a perfect poem or a rescued soul;
who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty
or failed to express it;
who has always looked for the best in others and
given them the best he had;
whose life was an inspiration;
whose memory a benediction.
Read about Bessie Anderson Stanley, told by her great-granddaughter.
In My Classroom
“Success” is a great mentor text for the power of three in writing.
In English, there is a power in three. Some refer to it as a pitchfork in writing, or as three-pronged writing. It is a technique that can be used to construct a thesis statement–a three-prong, parallel preview. It is a writing tool that can be used to combine sentences or to craft elaboration.
Here are my notes on Ms. Stanley’s use of the power of three in her poem.
Have you used the power of three in your writing?
If you have, please share it in the Comments.
Update. March 2017.
Check out this post on the Power of Three not only for writing but also in teaching and in living.
Slice of Life 2016
Read more about a slicing life
and a great community of writers / educators
Excellent resource! Having the visual adds a powerful teaching tool. I would definitely use this with students.
Just reading this after your Pigs, Mansions, Weddings post in 2018. I am excited about this for two reasons: first, while I already know about the power of three, your post is making me realize that I have never verbalized this with my students, even when I’m teaching parallelism to the 12th graders. What an oversight! Second, I love the visual you provide and I can immediately imagine how I could use it to make this idea accessible to many levels of students. (I know that, in honor of the post, I should have a third reason, but I don’t.) Thanks for this post.
I’m so glad you read this post. It is such a powerful craft move. Lots of students use it naturally, especially if they are readers. But having a name and visual does help. Also finding them in text helps with the crafting. There are short ones. All in one sentence onces. Ones in three sentences. Both poetry and prose use it. I love how it dresses up a student’s writing when crafted with principles of parallelism.
, I always naturally use threes. I never heard the term pitchfork. Side note my father was a memorized, probably a generational thing. He had me memorize this poem when I was young.
How amazing… that you memorized the poem. It may be one of the reasons you naturally use threes. They say our style is influenced by what we read and what we memorize.
I also thought the quote was Emerson! Thank you for posting the poem–I loved it. You were very kind to link my post. I appreciate the things I’ve learned by reading yours! Have a wonderful last week of the March challenge!
Thank you! 🙂
Alice, thank you for shedding light on the power of three, pitchfork technique. I will pay attention to this 3 pronged strategy to enhance my writing and that of others.
I’m so glad, Carol. It’s a great crafting tool.
I have been sharing it with students. The pitchfork visual will help us review it after spring break. Thanks for the idea.
Yes, the pitchfork really helps. Writing the words on the three prongs of the pitchfork helps students check to see if they have created parallel structures. And it also helps them make sure all three structures are connected directly to the same element in the sentence (pitchfork or keys on a ring), not to each other (chain effect).
I am a firm believer on the Power of 3, not only in writing, but in all things!
Thank you so very much for researching and sharing this anchor piece. I love the quote even more now than before, for this encapsulates all that it STILL takes to be a truly successful participant in this thing called life.
True! The power of three is in all things.
I never thought about the power of three in my own writing, but found lots of examples in my piece from yesterday: http://horizon51.blogspot.com/2016/03/solsc-16-day-sixteen-truth-or-fiction.html . Thanks for helping me see my own writing through a different lens!!
Ever since I learned about the Power of Three in writing a few years ago, I have found myself using it more and more. (I probably used it before, although unconsciously.) I have taught this writing move to my 4th graders and we are always on the lookout for it in the books we read.
Yes! It is amazing what a difference it makes and how easy it is to use. It is truly a power tool for writing. And young writers really grasp it. Perhaps because they’ve been exposed to it so much in literature–if they’ve been read to. Yea for read alouds!
Yes, you do! (Nice piece, by the way, and I too am avoiding the onslaught) This one caught my ear because the prongs are perfectly parallel: “These things I have seen with my own eyes, heard with my own ears, felt with my own heart.” (Very powerful!) It is a great tool to use in revision.
I love that analysis, and the visual. Thank you. I am not even sure if I have used the Power of Three in any of my recent posts. It is likely that we do it without even thinking about it, right?
Right. Part of unconscious immitation. Now you know about it, you will find yourself crafting with it. And you will see it in other people’s writing. Look for it in yours. Or for a place you could have used it. It can be real simple. Like, Have a fabulous birthday filled with family, friends, and fun. Or, The aroma of pancakes, bacon, and coffee filled our cabin.