This poem by Elbert Hubbard appeared on the cover of the November 22, 1914 issue of The Sun (NYC).
Elbert Green Hubbard (June 19, 1856 – May 7, 1915) was an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher. Raised in Hudson, Illinois, he had early success as a traveling salesman for the Larkin Soap Company. Among his many publications were the nine-volume work Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great and the short publication A Message to Garcia.
Less than a year after this poem was published, he and his second wife, Alice Moore Hubbard, died aboard the RMS Lusitania, when it was sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915.
A Prayer of Gratitude
I believe in the hands that work; in the brains that think ; in the hearts that love.
I am thankful for the blessed light of this day, and I am thankful for all the days that have gone before.
I thank the thinkers, the publishers, the inventors, the poets, the singers, the painters, the sculptors and the business men who have lived and are living.
I thank Pericles and Phidias, who made that most beautiful city the world has ever seen, and were repaid with persecution and death.
I thank Aristotle, the mountain guide and school teacher, who knew how to set bad boys to work.
I thank Immanuel Kant, who was never more than ten miles from his home, for luring the world to his door.
I thank Emerson for brooking the displeasure of his alma mater.
I thank Jamie Watt, the Scotch boy who watched his mother’s teakettle to a purpose.
I thank Volta and Galvani, who fixed their names, as did Watt, in the science that lightens labor and carries the burdens that once bowed human backs.
I thank Benjamin Franklin for his spirit of mirth, his persistency, his patience, his common sense.
I thank Alexander Humboldt and his brother, William Humboldt those great brothers twain who knew that life is opportunity.
I thank Shakespeare for running away from Stratford and holding horses at a theatre entrance — but not forever.
I thank Arkwright, Hargreaves and Crompton, from whose brains leaped the looms that weave with tireless hands the weft and warp that human bodies wear.
I thank Thomas Jefferson for writing the Declaration of Independence, for founding the public school system, for dreaming of a college where girls and boys would study, learn and work in joy.
I thank Benedict Spinoza, gardener, lens maker, scientist, humanist, for being true to the dictates of the tides of divinity that played through his soul.
I thank Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer for liberating theology from superstition.
I thank Tyndall the Irishman, Draper the American, Herschel the German, Bjornson the Scandinavian and Adam Smith the Scotchman for inspiration and help untold.
These men and others like them, their names less known, have made the world a fit dwelling place for liberty. Their graves are mounds from which flares freedom’s torch.
And I thank and praise too the simple, honest, unpretentious millions who have worked, struggled toiled, carrying heavy burdens, often paid in ingratitude, spurned, misunderstood who still worked on and succeeded, or failed, robbed of recognition and the results of their toil. To all these, who sleep in forgotten graves, my heart goes out in gratitude over the years and the centuries and the ages that have passed.
Amen and Amen!
by Elbert Hubbard
- Mack Bolan, the main character of Don Pendleton’s fiction series Executioner, frequently cites as inspiration a Hubbard quote, “God will not look you over for medals, diplomas, or degrees – but for scars.“
- At the end of “Rabbit’s Feat”, a 1960 Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote cartoon, Bugs quotes Hubbard by saying, “Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive.“
- The phrase “The graveyards are full of indispensable men” may have originated with Hubbard.
- A quote of Hubbard’s from his biography of American automotive developer John North Willys, “Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing, and you’ll never be criticized.” is often mis-attributed to Aristotle.