I remember I was in high school when one of my English teachers handed over to me a poem and advised me to read it on weekend and discuss its contents after the school timings next week. I am talking of 1984 and I was fifteen years young kid equipped with only one thing…….passion to make a difference!
I read the poem again and again on weekend and next day I shared my learning with my teacher. He appreciated my understanding (although very little) of the substance. Then he read each sentence to me with explanation and commentary. This poem has left deep imprints on my character. Ever since my school days, I have read it thousands of times; each time I read it, it mesmerizes me.
Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639), born in England, educated at Oxford, was secretary to the Earl of Essex and prominent diplomat and foreign policy wizard. He is the one who wrote definition of ambassador that became one of the favorite English phrases of all times. “An Ambassador is an honest man, sent to lie abroad for the good of his country”. I disagree, although, to his definition of Ambassador, yet, Sir Wotton’s poem has fascinated me for more than two decades. Today, I am sharing this poem with my friends here!
The Character of a Happy Life
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 prepar’d 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 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 fail:-
Lord of himself, though not of lands,
And having nothing, yet hath all.
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