Live For Something Poem

live for something poem

Live For Something

Live for something, have a purpose,
And that purpose keep in view;
Drifting like a helmless vessel,
Thou canst ne’er to life be true;

Half the wrecks that strew life’s ocean.
If some star had been their guide,
Might have now been safely riding,
But they drifted with the tide.

Live for something, and live earnest,
Though the work may humble be.
By the world of men unnoticed,
Known alone by God and thee:

Every act has priceless value,
To the architect of fate;
‘Tis the spirit of thy doing,
That alone will make it great.

Live for something, God and angels
Are thy watchers in the strife,
And above the smoke and conflict
Gleams the victor’s crown of life;

Life for something; God has given
Freely of His stores divine;
Richest gifts of earth and heaven,
If thou willst, may be thine.

-Robert Whitaker



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  1. Hi Shawn,

    This is indeed a beautiful poetic piece. Life is a precious gift, we must treasure it and be thankful for all we receive. A pleasure to read.

  2. My father (1902-1995), born and lived whole life in UK, often quoted the first verse of this poem to me…I am so glad to have finally found its source. Thank you so much. John Brooks

  3. I love this poem. A missionary friend of mine, Miss Margaret May Prentice (1892-1988), recited the first stanza often to her Nurse Aid students at the Ganta Mission Hospital in Liberia. Miss Prentice served as a nurse in China and in Liberia for many years with the United Methodist Church Missions. She even quoted the first stanza in her book, “Unwelcome at the Northeast Gate” p. 11. Now that I know its source, I will memorize it and use it on occasions. Thank you Miss Prentice for sharing this wonderful poem with me and others.
    Nya K. Taryor

    • To Nya K. Taryor: Margaret May Prentice was my great aunt, and in the early 1970s she gave each of us a copy of her book. As a 20-year-old, I took little interest in it, and many years later when I was finally able to read it with appreciation, Aunt Margaret had already passed away, along with all the adventures of her dedicated and purposeful life that did not make it into her book. Thanks so much for sharing this memory of her.

      • Wow, so many personal stories coming from this one poem! Gail, I’ll try to dig into the archives here and find Nya’s email. There’s a chance she won’t see your reply, so I’ll try emailing her.

  4. My mother died in 1951 when I was 14 years old and she had written the first verse of this poem in my autograph book, which was sadly lost after her funeral. I could only ever remember the first 2 lines but these words have been somewhat of an inspiration in my life. At teacher training college I asked my English lecturer if she knew of this poem but had a negative response.
    I am so thrilled to find this and shall pass a copy to my four beloved grand daughters Thank you.

    • Wonderful story, Lesley. Thanks so much for sharing with me. I’m so glad I could have a positive input in your life (and your 4 grand daughters). 🙂

  5. Like John, My father – although Nigerian – also often quoted the first verse. In fact, we had it framed and hung in a prominent place in the house and I have never forgotten it, I wasn’t aware it had more than one verse. Thank you so much for this, it is good to finally find the source.