The Character of a Happy Life

Sir Henry Wotton

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.

Further Reading

Poems For Graduation
As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII [All the world's a stage]
by William Shakespeare
Beyond the Years
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
by Langston Hughes
First Gestures
by Julia Spicher Kasdorf
Friends, I Will Not Cease
by Vachel Lindsay
by Rudyard Kipling
by William Ernest Henley
Knows how to forget! (433)
by Emily Dickinson
My Heart Leaps Up
by William Wordsworth
The Choir Invisible
by George Eliot
The Graduate Leaving College
by George Moses Horton
The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
The Writer
by Richard Wilbur
Today We Make the Poet's Words Our Own
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
by Christina Rossetti