To the Men Who Lose

I recently came across this poem and appreciated it. It can apply to various situations, and the field of pastoral ministry is certainly one of them. Many faithful brothers never win the world or the church’s applause or even appreciation. Sometimes a faithful work fails. And every faithful work has it share of failures- and too often the failures loom larger in our minds than the successes. Here, then, is a fitting poem reminding us to pursue faithfulness, walking by faith and not by sight, “knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58).

To the Men Who Lose

Here’s to the men who lose!
What though their work be e’er so nobly planned,
And watched with zealous care,
No glorious halo crowns their efforts grand,
Contempt is failure’s share.

Here’s to the men who lose!
If triumph’s easy smile our struggles greet,
Courage is easy then;
The king is he who, after fierce defeat,
Can up and fight again.

Here’s to the men who lose!
The ready plaudits of a fawning world
Ring sweet in victor’s ears;
The vanquished’s banners never are unfurled-
For them there sound no cheers.

Here’s to the men who lose!
The touchstone of true worth is not success;
There is a higher test-
Though fate may darkly frown, onward to press,
And bravely do one’s best.

Here’s to the men who lose!
It is the vanquished’s praises that I sing,
And this is the toast I choose:
“A hard-fought failure is a noble thing;
Here’s to the men who lose!”


Scott T. Brown, editor.  It Can Be Done: Poems for Hardship, Sacrifice and Dominion (Wake Forest, NC: Merchant Adventurers, 2009), p. 85.


  1. Hey Mike. Have you seen this attributed to Guest? He’s a favorite of mine. However, I can’t find this attributed to him. As I noted, I found it in a book listed as author unknown. Searches I’ve tried turn up the poem as early as 1898 without an author attributed. Guest would have been 17 in that year.

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