It Might Have Been Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

It Might Have Been Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

It Might Have Been Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox is very inspirational poem. It Might Have Been Poem was published in Poems of Cheer (1910) by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

We will be what we could be. Do not say,
“It might have been, had not this, or that, or this.”
No fate can keep us from the chosen way;
He only might who is.

We will do what we could do. Do not dream
Chance leaves a hero, all uncrowned to grieve.
I hold, all men are greatly what they seem;
He does, who could achieve.

We will climb where we could climb. Tell me not
Of adverse storms that kept thee from the height.
What eagle ever missed the peak he sought?
He always climbs who might.

I do not like the phrase “It might have been!”
It lacks force, and life’s best truths perverts:
For I believe we have, and reach, and win,
Whatever our deserts.


  1. Reminds me of Sartre saying that we cannot say that Proust could have written another novel had he not died, since writing another novel “is exactly what he did not do”…


    1. Yes – but apart from excuses: comfort: you are already trying your hardest, just by being yourself. So where you are at, is where you got to, is ok. Except when you are lazy and unmotivated, but then that is your current goal 🙂


  2. I love this! Not familiar with her poetry, so this is a treat. You have to marvel at the way a poet can cram so much meaning into a few choice words. Thanks for the post!


  3. I just wonder how much motivated she would have been when she wrote this masterpiece. Thanks


  4. i used one of her poems to teach my students. it was this precious piece:

    Friendship after Love

    After the fierce midsummer all ablaze
    Has burned itself to ashes, and expires
    In the intensity of its own fires,
    There come the mellow, mild, St. Martin days
    Crowned with the calm of peace, but sad with haze.
    So after Love has led us, till he tires
    Of his own throes, and torments, and desires,
    Comes large-eyed friendship: with a restful gaze,
    He beckons us to follow, and across
    Cool verdant vales we wander free from care.
    Is it a touch of frost lies in the air?
    Why are we haunted with a sense of loss?
    We do not wish the pain back, or the heat;
    And yet, and yet, these days are incomplete.


  5. I knew I would find something on your site for a mental boost : ) I liked this one.


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