Inspirational Words of Wisdom

How Did You Die?

How Did You Die? is a poem that really asks the question - how have you lived your entire life?

When your time comes, can you look back over your life and say with pride that you lived it well? Did you positively affect other people? Were you generous, compassionate, grateful for the life that you were given? Or will you be full of regrets of what you didn't do? Sorry for the unkind words and hurt feelings that you caused? Bitter because you didn't let go and forgive?

You are the only one who decides your behavior in every moment of every day. When your time comes... how will you die?

How Did You Die?
by Edmund Vance Cooke

Did you tackle that 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 a 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 disgrace.
The harder you're thrown, why the higher you bounce
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts;
It's how did you fight--and why?

And though you be done to the 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?

~Edmund Vance Cooke (1866-1932)

Edmund Vance Cooke was born in Port Dover, Ontario, Canada. At the age of 13, he began working for the White Sewing Machine Co. factory. In 1893, he finally left the company to follow his passion as a poet and lecturer and soon became known as "the poet laureate of childhood."

He published his first book of poems a year later called A Patch of Pansies. In total, he published 16 books of verse along with several other books.

Cooke pioneered the way to live broadcasts when he began broadcasting his poems on the newly launched Detroit News radio station, WWJ, in 1920.

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