Fugitive Verses
Popular Reprinted Poetry from Nineteenth Century Newspapers

"What I Live For" by G[eorge]. Linæus Banks [possibly also Isabella Banks, who published under Mrs. George Linnaeus Banks]

Source of witness transcribed: The Wyandot Pioneer (Upper Sandusky, Ohio)

Date of witness transcribed: 10 June 1853

Notes about this poem: "What I Live For" was printed in at least 214 newspapers during the nineteenth century. It can be found using ID 491111 in this table of most widely-reprinted poems.

While "What I Live For" was often reprinted in total, its last stanza was by far the most popular part. It was printed as part of sermons, obituaries, speeches, and other media.


What I Live For

  • I live for those that love me,
  • For those I know are true,
  • For the heaven that smiles above me,
  • And awaits my spirit too;
  • For all the human ties that bind me,
  • For the task by God assign’d me,
  • For the bright hopes left behind me,
  • And the Good that I can do.

  • I live to learn their story,
  • Who’ve suffered for my sake,
  • To emulate their glory,
  • And follow in their wake;
  • Bards martyrs, patriots, sages,
  • The noble of all ages,
  • Whose deeds crowd history’s pages,
  • And time’s great volume make.

  • I live to hail that season,
  • By gifted minds foretold,
  • When men shall live by reason,
  • And not alone by gold—
  • When man to man united,
  • And every wrong thing righted,
  • The whole world shall be lighted,
  • As Eden of old.

  • I live to hold communion
  • With all that is divine,
  • To feel there is a union
  • ‘Twixt Nature’s heart and mine;
  • To profit by affliction,
  • Reap truths from fields of fiction,
  • Grow wiser from conviction,
  • And fulfill each great design.

  • I live for those that love me,
  • For those who know me true,
  • For heaven that smiles above me,
  • And awaits my spirit too;
  • For the wrong that needs resistance,
  • For the cause that lacks assistance,
  • For the FUTURE in the distance,
  • And the good that I can do.