Published on Academy of American Poets (

To the Critic

Of all my verses, say that one is good,
So shalt thou give more praise than Hope might claim;
And from my poet-grave, to vex thy soul,
No ghost shall rise, whose deeds demand a name.

A thousand loves, and only one shall stand
To show us what its counterfeits should be;
The blossoms of a spring-tide, and but one
Bears the world’s fruit,—the seed of History.

A thousand rhymes shall pass, and only one
Show, crystal-shod, the Muse’s twinkling feet;
A thousand pearls the haughty Ethiop spurned
Ere one could make her luxury complete.

In goodliest places, some meanest room
The owner’s smallness shields contentedly.
Nay, further: of the manifold we are,
But one pin’s point shall pass eternity.

Exalt, then, to the greatness of the throne
One only of these beggarlings of mine;
I with the rest will dwell in modest bounds:
The chosen one shall glorify the line.


This poem is in the public domain.


Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe was born on May 27, 1819, in New York City to poet Julia Rush Ward and prominent banker Samuel Ward. She was an American poet and author, best known for writing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” (the Atlantic Monthly, 1862). She was also an abolitionist, social activist, and co-founder of the American Woman Suffrage Association. Howe was the author of several books of poetry, essays, and biographies including From Sunset Ridge (Houghton Mifflin, 1898) and Passion-Flowers (Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1854). Howe also wrote The Hermaphrodite (University of Nebraska Press, 2004), an unfinished novel about an intersex individual. She was the mother of the poet Laura Elizabeth Richards. Howe died on October 17, 1910 in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. 

Date Published: 1899-01-01

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