The nectar of success that seemed to shower unearned wealth and power on so many in 2008 ultimately gave new meaning to “Success is counted sweetest”, by Emily Dickinson.

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of Victory

As he defeated — dying —
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!

Clearly, we don’t yet know the extent of the year’s revelations. However, failures of financial, political and military resources to deliver the world in which we thought we lived means we begin to understand that “To comprehend a nectar / Requires sorest need.” 

The second stanza moves to enlarge on the private ironical tragedy of knowing the sweetness of accomplishment as a loser better than a counterpart who is free to take for granted the perks of advantaged living. Perhaps the responsibilities and self discipline required of the truly financially well-endowed mean that only the poor victims of lost 401-k’s or dependents of a charity that recently went poof! see such high estate as pure.

I think of how clearly I can see what would have happened in Iraq if a shock-and-awe of proper preparation and planning had been part of the relative ease of dethroning Saddam Hussein. Billions of words written about what should or might have happened in Iraq shows our latter day ability to “.. tell the definition / So clear of Victory”.

There are ways in which I see 2008 “As he defeated — dying — ”.  But, it is our collective “… forbidden ear” that can hear in Congressional hearings the “distant strains of triumph” that might have been. Titans “Burst agonized and clear!” as they make their case for prolonging yesterday’s auto, bank and home industries.

I see by looking back at 2008 that some of my biggest decisions were based on needs, some of which I created with fantastic flights of imagination!  Nectar I could only comprehend because of perceptions that I had failed.

Digest A Poem A Day — Accept What Comes Your Way

Advertisements