The Character of a Happy Life

How happy is he born or taught
That serveth not another’s will,
Whose armour is his honest thought,
And simple truth his highest skill;

Whose passions not his masters are;
Whose soul is still prepared for death,
Untied unto the world with care
Of princes’ grace or vulgar breath;

Who envies none whom chance doth raise,
Or vice; who never understood
The deepest wounds are given by praise,
By rule of state but not of good;

Who hath his life from rumours freed,
Whose conscience is his strong retreat,
Whose state can neither flatterers feed
Nor ruins make accusers great;

Who God doth late and early pray
More of his grace than goods to send,
And entertains the harmless day
With a well-chosen book or friend.

This man is free from servile bands
Of hope to rise or fear to fall,
Lord of himself, though not of lands,
And having nothing, yet hath all.

by Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639).


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