Don’t Quit | A Poem by John Greenleaf Whittier


When things go wrong, as they sometimes will;
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill;
When the funds are low and the debts are high;
And you want to smile but you have to sigh.
When all is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don't you quit
Success is failure turned inside out;
The silver tint on the clouds of doubt;
And you can never tell how close you are;
It may be near when it seems far.
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit —
It's when things go wrong that you must not quit.”

— John Greenleaf Whittier


Sometimes, life may seem difficult and our paths lined with impediments. The above poem admonishes us not to give up or “quit” even when the going gets too tough.

No matter what problems we face or challenges we encounter, there is always a place for success and breakthroughs because “success is failure turned inside out”. And it is only in trying and forging ahead that we may achieve the seemingly unachievable.

While the poem recommends rest “if you must”, it is emphatic about not quitting altogether.


John Greenleaf Whittier’s Don’t Quit is no doubt an exciting, spirit-lifting poem that hammers on perseverance in the midst of tribulations. Written in simple diction that acknowledges the two sides of life, the poem is particularly given a special effect with the polite use of imperatives and musicality with the tallying end-rhymes.

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