The "Risks" poem

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your dreams, ideas before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing.
They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.
Chained by their certitudes, they are a slave: they have forfeited their freedom.

Only a person who risks is truly free.

— Anonymous (?)

I got this poem the summer of '93 I believe, a turning point Summer for me when I also went to the Philippines for the first time since immigrating to the US in 1981. Paper is neat, I still have my original print out from way back then.

19 Replies to “The "Risks" poem”

  1. i really love this poem… it inspires me to live my life to the fullest and just do what i need to do and with what i need to accomplish… thanks for posting this.. I've been looking for this poem eversince my teacher in highschool told us about this…(",)

  2. I first read this poem when i was 13 years old. Now i am 31. whilst i can't say that i have always lived to it, it has helped me when at my lowest ebb. I am now a teacher and plan on using it in an assembly and hope that at least 1 person gets as much from it as i have.

  3. Just to let you all know where this poem came from…I actually wrote it in 1976, on the back of a Shakey's pizza box in Huntington Beach , California… Sitting on the beach next to the Huntington Beach pier. This hung on the wall of my parents home until I joined the US Navy after graduating from High School in 1980. I let friends and family read it as well as giving out a few copies to those who wanted it. Unfortunately I never got it copy righted and didnt ever see it published until about 20 years ago while reading self help books in a Barnes and Noble in Portland , Oregon. It may say "Author Unknown', but I know who wrote it, it was me.

  4. I have just met up with this poem…what a kick in the backside to all..Of course life is meant to be lived and loved and experienced and NO REGRETS. I am re-emerging after losing my other half …like a butterfly I am in the world…no regrets…lots of risks …hell world here I am.thanks for this whoever wrote it.

  5. This poem is by William Arthur Ward. My flat mate used to have it on the kitchen board and I always found very inspiring. I read it every morning while having my breakfast now and it is a wonderful way to start the day

  6. Jim – if you are the author of this poem, let us know more about you. You must already know that there are at least three different persons mentioned as authors: William Arthur Ward, Janet Rand and Leo Buscaglia. So, let's say that the correct information is that it was written in 1978, by Jim ??

  7. when I first read this poem it inspired me to write poems. I write my from the bottom of my heart and soul. All about love, life, happiness. family, troubles, and heartbreaks. but help me publish them please thank you.

  8. This is crazy! I wrote this poem with my father! I am shocked to find that it has been claimed to several authors! It was published when I was in high school!!!! I was searching the web to find what book it was published in, because it was a long time ago….. That is how I came across everyone saying they wrote it! What is up with this?!?!?!?!

  9. For the record Jim….. I published this poem in 2006-07…. Plagiarism is a crime. The wording is slightly different but nevertheless it is still mine!

  10. I know for a fact the poem existed as unknown in February 1987. A nurse gave me a copy when I was in the hospital!

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