A prize-winning poem

I’d like you to know about a prize-winning poem that inspires all of us to “make ourselves good.”  In short, it inspires us to make ourselves into the kind of people we strive to be—every single day, for as long as we can.

First, the poem:

Make Yourself Good

By Meredith Alexander Kunz

“Do not act as if you had ten thousand years to live.”

–       Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 4:17

Remember that this moment

Is all you have: 

Each flying second

Your personal eternity

To make with it 

What you can

On this earth. 

Each flash of consciousness 

Your own, your true possession,

The source of your power 

To choose, and choose well,

In this temporary existence.

Focus on this alone and stay true.

That’s what you need to remember

To concentrate on what must be done.

God or atoms? No difference. 

Each of us must make our own way.

And that inner daimon

That guardian-spirit 

Inside you, inside us all,

Knows the path to virtue 

And the good. 

When we listen, 

We find happiness.

Some days, some years even,

We will be down and out, 

Dispossessed, beaten up

By the whims of the world,

Liable to gnash our teeth, 

Fill our brains with worry, 

Fear, desire, resentment.

But still: We hold the keys to mastery 

Of all that really matters.

It’s a lesson for the ages: 

“While you have life in you, 

While you can,

Make yourself good.”

Check yourself. 

Channel Marcus.

And if you’re veering off course into

Love of status, money, looks, things—

If you’re consumed 

By trepidation

Of what lies ahead, 

And dread of what

Surrounds you,


And recall the philosopher-king 

to rule them all. 

He’ll set you right. 

And you’ll start the next day

Ready for the fight. 

Now for some background:

The poet, Meredith Alexander Kunz, is a writer and editor who has worked in journalism, higher education, and the technology industry.  Her writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines including Newsweek, The San Francisco Daily Journal, The Stanford Report, and The Industry Standard.

In 2013, she published Words That Carry Us, a collection of her poems.

A mother of two daughters, she created The Stoic Mom blog (www.thestoicmom.com) in 2016 to explore the many ways that caregivers and kids can benefit from practicing modern Stoic life philosophy. You can follow her blog on Substack at https://thestoicmom.substack.com

Meredith is also a contributing editor for The STOIC magazine and has shared her writing, talks, and interviews on the Stoicism Today blog, podcasts, NPR-affiliate radio, and conferences.  


Meredith submitted her poem “Make Yourself Good” to the Odes to Marcus Aurelius international competition held by Modern Stoicism and The Aurelius Foundation to celebrate the Stoic emperor’s 1900th birthday.

The poem won second place in this international competition. 

Her goal: To get to the heart of Marcus’ Meditations, and what she hopes to keep in mind each and every day.

Her own audio recording of the poem is online on You Tube.  You can click on this YouTube video to hear her read her poem:  https://youtu.be/oLyBZLKyIa0 

3 responses to “A prize-winning poem

  1. Carol Aronson-Shore

    Beautiful. To read at this time for me personally is a blessing. Such a wise and talented poet. ❤️💕

  2. What a powerful, inspirational poem! The apple didn’t fall far from the tree! ❤️

  3. Wonderful poem! Nobody has come up with a more meaningful philosophy than Stoicism and it’s been a long time. And a mother’s pride is consistent with it and completely justified in the case.
    You should also be proud of how well you have lived your life in terms of the poems values. Chip

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