About the Poet:

Berton Braley, an American poet, inherited writing skills from his father, who died when he was seven. He began writing at an early age of eleven when his fairy tale got printed by a small publication. He is one of the most-read American poets of his era with a collection of 11,000 written verses and many short stories. His attitude of being optimistic at all times distinguished him from others. He is added to the lost American author’s list. A reason for this is that he was a contemporary of Frost and thus, got easily lost and overshadowed by Frost’s works. His poems are straightforward and easy to understand and this might also be the reason for the lost interest in his poetry which lacked ambiguity, unlike his contemporary poets. His poets try to touch many themes of capitalistic society, success, love, passion, values, morals, which is a reason his works are not taught in American schools.


Stanza 4

It’s going onward despite the defeat,
And fighting staunchly, but keeping sweet;
It’s being clean and it’s playing fair,
It’s laughing lightly at Dame Despair.

Somewhat a continuation of the last stanza, this stanza says that even if one fails, the real success lies in not giving up and marching on. Braley tells his readers to fight determinedly, but stay clean. The sweetness of success lies in fair play, without letting it get tarnished because of resorting to unfair means. Here hopelessness has been personified as “Dame Despair”. One should not be let down by his losses and should never give up on righteousness in his bid to attain success. If moral means are followed to reach the end, then man can mock hopelessness on her face and move ahead.

Stanza 5

It’s looking up at the stars above,
And drinking deeply of life and love;
It’s struggling on with the will to win,
But taking the loss with a cheerful grin.

Success is looking up at the stars and endeavoring to reach them. It is about man’s ambitions and the hard work which he does to accomplish his goals. But, success should not be made synonymous with material goods. Real success lies in happiness and contentment, which is available to man in the form of life and love. The road to success is not a bed of roses. The poet tells all about the struggle that man has to undergo to reach success. One shouldn’t lose their will till the very end, despite all the obstacles that they might face. At the same time, they should not let loss or failure push them down. They should take their losses on their stride and continue working with enthusiasm. With every loss, man learns something new, gets a lesson. Hence, he should accept the failures with a smile and mold them into something productive.

Stanza 6

It’s sharing sorrow and work and mirth,

And making better this good old earth;
It’s serving, striving through strain and stress,
It’s doing your noblest – that’s a success!

In this concluding stanza, the poet encompasses all his thoughts and compresses them into these four lines. He says that real success is sharing joy, sadness, and work, all equally and making this world a better place to live in. There is a message of peace and harmonious living in these lines. Success is about serving others and attempting to overcome strain and stress and other obstacles that fall in one’s path. Being noble, magnanimous, loftiness of mind, spirit, and principles is what makes a man successful.

Critical Analysis:

That’s Success by Berton Braley is a universal poem that any dynamic, ambitious man can relate to. Enlisting all the ingredients that are necessary for brewing up success, this poem is a self-esteem booster. Written in a simple, decipherable language, the poet has made use of precise, piercing words that ensure that the impact of the poem is not compromised. The first stanza is an introduction to the theme of this poem and provides the reader with a base as to what is to come next. The highlight of this stanza is the line about making money, yet holding friends. A man usually has a misconception that to become rich he must sacrifice all his worldly relationships. Mostly, in his chase for attaining success, man ignores or neglects his family ties. Braley clearly states that without the comfort of any companionship it is impossible for man to achieve the true essence of success. The second stanza is about the clarity of thoughts that is necessary for reaching a particular goal. If a man is confused or unsure about his plan of action if he doesn’t know why he wants success or what his definition of success is, then he won’t be able to pursue his dreams. The consequent stanzas mostly talk about how failure should not deter a man from pursuing success. It is inevitable that the path to success will be sprinkled with obstacles. But, if a man truly wants to taste success, then he must be willing to take these difficulties in his stride and keep marching forward. He should make hard work his armor and face all adversities. There will always be a distraction and enticing short cuts, but it is upon man himself to not get tempted to ditch his moralities and values and choose the easier, but wrong way. Success tastes sweeter if it has been achieved by sheer labor and righteousness. Success is also not just confined to one’s personal self. Doing good for society, sharing your joy with others, that is a success. Success is being noble.


The poet uses an inspirational and motivational tone throughout the poem. The words and the language used in the poem act as morale boosters and inspire the reader to chase success, but in a moral way. Braley has made use of simple, yet the effective language that can reach all men, as the desire for success is a commonality. That’s Success has a simplistic and straightforward tone.

Central Idea:

As is evident from the title of the poem, That’s Success is a poem that completely revolves around what exactly is meant by success and what are requirements for achieving it. Comprising of six stanzas, this poem begins with giving the main idea as to what constitutes success and moves on to highlight the other intricacies of success. The major intention of the poet has been to inspire the reader to pursue success in a true and righteous manner, despite all the obstacles that he faces. Only this will ensure the achievement of real success, contentment, and happiness. Resorting to unfair means mars the beauty of reaching one’s goal. Thus, there is no shortcut to success and one has to tread on the field of success with hard work as their armor and brave the path that is riddled with risks and failures.