Wednesday 16 December 2020

Character of a Happy Man


Character of a Happy Man


[The idea conveyed in this poem is that those who have lesser cares and ambitions in life are the most contented people. Those who are truthful and modest and do not fall a prey to pride and vices and have faith in God and honesty are truly happy.]

How happy is he born or taught that served 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; United unto the world with care of public fame or private breath; who envies none whom chance doth raise Nor vice; who never understood. How deepest wounds are given with praise; Nor rules of state, but rules of good: Who God doth late and early pray More of His grace than gifts to lend; Who entertains the harmless day with a religious book or friend; This man is free from servile band Of hope to rise, or fear to fall; Lord of himself, though not of lands; And having nothing, yet hath all.                                                                          

Sir Henry Wotton

 [Sir Henry Wotton was born in 1568 in Kent (UK). He was a famous poet and diplomat. Wotton studied at Winchester and Oxford. In 1595 he was engaged by the Earl of Essex as agent and secretary. His poems and other writings were collected in 1651.]



Armour                     defensive covering, protection


Still                           always


Ruin                          downfall


State                          estate


Entertains                  occupies agreeably, utilises


Servile                        slavish


Fame                           a state of being known by many people


Bond                           – something that binds or holds together


Enjoying the Poem


1.     What does the poet want to say in the poem?

Ans.  In this poem, the poet wants to describe those virtues which enable a person to lead a happy life. Honesty, righteousness, self-satisfaction and devotion to God are some virtues of the character of a happy man.


2.     Write a note on the central idea of the poem.

Ans. The central idea of this poem is that a happy man is nobody’s slave. He is honest, truthful and God-fearing. He is free from worldly troubles and anxieties. He knows no hear, and he is his own master.


3.     Write a summary of the poem in your own words.

Ans. The central idea of this poem is that a happy man is nobody’s slave. He is honest, truthful and God-fearing. He is free from worldly troubles and anxieties. He knows no hear, and he is his own master.


4.     Explain the lines. ‘‘Whose armour is his honest thought and simple truth his utmost skill!”

Ans. The happy man is honesty and truthful. He never deceives anybody, and he never tells a lie. He does not need any armour for his defence. Honesty is his means of self-defense, and truth is his best skill for doing his work in this world.


5.     How does a man become really happy?

Ans. A man can become really happy if he determines to have no matter and become free from passion. He should be honest, truthful, sincere, hard-working and free from jealously and fears. He should become his own master. That is the secret of happiness.


6.     How does ‘a religious book or a friend’ give happiness?

Ans. A religious book teaches many useful lessons. The book teaches to shun evil and follow the path of good. It keeps us on the right path. The same is true of the company of a friend.  From the company of a true friend, you get the same peace of mind and happiness that a religious book gives you. Thus, they give us happiness of the purest kind.


7.     How does a contented man have all without having anything?

Ans. A contented man desires nothing more than what he has. He is not ambitious. He is free from jealously. He is not afraid of anything. He is self- sufficient. So he has everything.


8. A ‘synonym’ means a word with a similar meaning. Write down the synonyms of the following words from the poem.

Passions                             …………………….

Fame                                  …………………….

Grace                                 …………………….

Service                               …………………….

Vice                                   …………………….

9. Life is not made difficult by a hostile fate but because of our own dreamy, unrealistic desires. Alexander Pope’s poem “The Quiet Life” conveys the same idea. Compare the two poems.