This is a very beautiful quote, and Bessie’s grandaughter e-mailed me to let me know that Bessie submitted the poem as an entry in a contest for Brown magazine and won a small cash prize on the order of $250. That money paid off the mortgage on the house and bought a tombstone for one of her children that had died. The quote has been incorrectly attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, who is a worthy fellow, but didn’t write it.
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.