The Character of a Happy Life

Sir Henry Wotton.
1568–1639

HOW happy is he born and taught

That serveth not another’s will;

Whose armour is his honest thought,

And simple truth his utmost skill!

 

Whose passions not his masters are;

Whose soul is still prepared for death,

Untied unto the world by care

Of public fame or private breath;

 

Who envies none that chance doth raise,

Nor vice; who never understood

How deepest wounds are given by praise;

Nor rules of state, but rules of good;

 

Who hath his life from rumours freed;

Whose conscience is his strong retreat;

Whose state can neither flatterers feed,

Nor ruin make oppressors great;

 

Who God doth late and early pray

More of His grace than gifts to lend;

And entertains the harmless day

With a religious book or friend;

 

—This man is freed from servile bands

Of hope to rise or fear to fall:

Lord of himself, though not of lands,

And having nothing, yet hath all.

 

literature, poetry

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