To Laugh Often and Much

The poem, “To Laugh Often and Much,” was credited to 19th-century American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, poet, and friend of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, by Albert Edward Wiggam in 1951. But the best estimate as to its true origin is that, it is in fact, a derivative of an essay by Bessie A. Stanley of Lincoln, Kansas in the early 1900s: Emerson died on April 27, 1882.

I used the reworked version of “To Laugh Often and Much” below, to add some flavour to the Mahoney’s on the Water, 2008 Taste of Nova Scotia Awards submission, to illustrate the welcoming, down-home dining experience at this Cumberland County, Nova Scotia seaside restaurant.

1905 Kansan original

To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of the intelligent people
and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch,
or a redeemed social condition;
to know that one life has breathed easier because you lived here.
This is to have succeeded.

2008 Bluenose revision

To laugh often and much;
to enjoy the company of Bluenose people;
to survey sunset on salt water;
to discover new family and friends;
to leave your table a bit better, whether by fresh beginnings, traditional fare or decadent afterthought;
to taste a symphony;
to savour a midsummer’s day;
to sense altitude at sea level.
This is to have found, “right some good” at Mahoney’s on the Water.

Mahoney's on the Water logo

Background + Credits

  • Credit for tracking down the origin of “To Laugh Often and Much” goes to ­­ and
  • Taste of Nova Scotia was launched in 1989 to promote the most exceptional local culinary experiences this Atlantic Canadian province has to offer.
  • “A Bluenoser is a person from Nova Scotia. Contrary to popular belief, the schooner Bluenose was named after the people of Nova Scotia, and not the other way around. The term has been in use since at least the late 18th century.” —
  • “right some good” is colloquial Bluenoser vernacular, usually having to do with food, usually involving some lip licking and always meaning “damned tasty.”
  • Lighthouse photo courtesy Tim Foster, one half of the Dose Media duo, possibly the best beverage branding agency in Canada.
Category: About Pages, Love Letters, Work