Central Idea Of the Poem
This poem is written by well-known poet
‘Henry Wotton’. This is very meaningful poem. This poem shares secret of a happy life. A truly happy person leads an honest life. He is jealous of none. He is content with whatever he has. He is not a slave of his passions. He prays to God daily and follows the path of goodness.
Summary of The Character of a Happy Life
The poem The Character of a Happy Life is composed by Sir Henry Wotton. He was a renowned political figure, who served British Empire as an ambassador for more than twenty-one years. Whatever he has written for literature in marvellous. Like all writers of his time, he also wanted to build the character of his readers. The character of a Happy Man is a model for others to be followed.
The poem speaks of the life of a happy man. He leads a virtuous, upright and peaceful life. The poet says that happy is the man who is born free and is not the slave of other’s evil desires. His honest thought saves him from sins. A man of virtues and strong character keeps his desires under his strict control. He is never carried away by false hopes and worldly wishes. The world is not glamour for him and he is always ready to depart from the stage of the world. A happy man does not become jealous of others. He dislikes flatterers because such people are sincere to none but to their own selfish motives.
His conscience is a strong shelter for him. A truly happy man prays to God for His mercy and graciousness. He does not aspire for worldly riches, cheap name and fame. He remains busy in the company of good friends. He has no high hopes. So, he has no fear to fall. He has no worldly wealth or land but he is master of his own self and destiny. His greatest wealth is his contentment, ” contentment is the soul of happiness”.
He may be poor from the worldly point of view but because of his good qualities, he is the richest man in the world.
Questions and Answers
Enjoying the Poem
1. What does the poet want to say in the poem?
Ans. In this poem, the poet wants to say about the virtues which enable a person to lead a happy life. These virtues are honesty, righteousness, self-satisfaction and devotion to God.
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 has faith in God. He is free from envy and vices. He enjoys the company of books and friends. He has no fear of death and he is his own master.
3. Explain the lines. ‘‘Whose armour is his honest thought and simple truth his utmost skill!”
Ans. The happy man is sincere and truthful. He never deceives anyone, and he never tells a lie. He does not need any armour to defend himself. Honesty is his means of self-defence, and truth is his best skill to do his work in this world.
5. How does a man become really happy?
Ans. A man can be really happy if he decides to be free from passion, no matter what. He should be honest, truthful, sincere, hard-working and free from jealousy and fear. He’s supposed to be his own master. This is the secret of happiness.
6. How does ‘a religious book or a friend’ give happiness?
Ans. A religious book teaches a lot of useful lessons. The book teaches us to avoid evil and follow the path of good. It keeps us on the right track. The same is true of a friend’s company. You get the same peace of mind and happiness from the company of a true friend that a religious book gives you. They give us the purest kind of happiness.
7. How does a contented man have all without having anything?
Ans. A contented man does not desire more than what he has got. He is not very ambitious. He is free from jealousy. He is not scared of anything. It is self-sufficient. So, he has everything.
8. A ‘synonym’ means a word with similar meaning. Write down the synonyms of the following words from the poem.
Passions : feelings, heartstrings
Fame : popularity, renown
Grace : elegance, courtesy
Service : occupation
Vice : sin
Extra Questions of The Poem
How happy is he born or taught
That serveth not another’s will;
Whose armour is his honest thought,
And simple truth his utmost skill.
1. Name the poem and the poet.
Ans:- Poem:- Character of A Happy Man
Poet:- Sir Henry Wotton
2. What is the armour of a happy man?
Ans:- Honest thought is the armour of a happy man.
3. What is his utmost skill?
Ans:- Simple truth is his utmost skill.
Whose passions not his masters are;
Whose soul is still prepared for death;
Untied unto the world with care
Of public fame or private breath.
1. What is a happy man not afraid of?
Ans:- A happy man is not afraid of death.
2. What is a happy man not slave of?
Ans:- A happy man is not slave of his passions.
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.
1. Who does a happy man envy?
Ans:- A happy man envies nobody.
2. What does a happy man not understand?
Ans:- A happy person does not understand how deepest wounds are given with praise.
3. What does a truly happy person rule over?
Ans:- He rules over the goodness of his heart.
Who God doth and early pray
More of his grace than gifts to lend;
And entertains the harmless day
With a religious friend.
1. What does a happy person pray for?
Ans:- A happy person prays for God’s grace.
2. What do you understand by the term harmless day?
Ans:- It means the harmless activities of the day.
3. How does a happy man spend his day?
Ans:- In the company of some noble friend.
This man is free from servile bonds
Of hope to rise and fear to fall;
Lord of himself, though not of lands;
And having nothing, yet hath all.
1. What does the poet mean by ‘this man’?
Ans:- ‘This man’ means the man who wants to be happy.
2. What do ‘servile bonds’ refer to?
Ans:- ‘Servile bonds’ refer to hope to rise and fear to fall.
3. Explain the last line of the stanza.
Ans:- A happy man may not have material things. But he has satisfaction.
Additional Important Questions
Q. What is the soul of a happy man prepared to meet death?
Ans. The soul of a happy man is prepared to meet death happily because a happy man has spent a very simple, happy, honest, honourable, peaceful and chaste life.
Q. What is meant by “of public fame, or private breath “?
Ans. Of public fame, or private breath meant that a happy man is not attached to this world to win public fame, nor does he care he what people say about his in private. The poet means to say that a happy man lives a very simple, happy honest and peaceful life. He does not care for cheap popularly or public opinion.
Q. What kind of freedom does he enjoy according to these lines “untied unto the world by care of public fame, or private breath”?
Ans. According to the said lines a happy man is not attached to this world to win public fame, nor does he care he what people say about his in private.The poet means to say that a happy man lives a very simple, happy, honest and peaceful life. He does not care for cheap popularity or public opinion.
Q. How does praise give the deepest wounds?
Ans. Unnecessary praise amounts to flattery. It may give the deepest wounds because seeking of flattery corrupts a man’s character due to not feeling of distinguish between right and wrong. It may also provoke the enmity of the envious. Moreover, praise from the insincere may be ironic and mocking.
Q. What is meant by “rules of state” and “rules of good”?
Ans. By “rules of state” means rules of statecraft viz, diplomacy of state. Every state follows some rules that are in her interests. These rules may be harmful to others but a happy man does not follow such rules.” Rules of Good ” means rules of a virtuous life. For example, a happy man always speaks the truth, hates flattery and prays to God for His blessings.
Q. Who is free from servile bands? Or What do you think “the man is free from servile bands”?
Ans. A happy man is free from all slavish bonds. He thinks and acts in a free manner. He is free from the influences that debase his character. He has no hopes to rise to higher position, nor does he fear of his downfall. Such a person is master of his own will.
Q. What does he pray for?
Ans. A happy prays to God regularly. He does not pray for any wealth or for high position. He thanks God more for His grace rather than for the worldly gifts that He has given him.
Q. Explain what is meant by “Lord of himself”?
Ans. ” Lord of himself ” means a person who is the master of his own will. He thinks and acts in a free manner. He follows the dictates of his conscience. Though he is poor from worldly point of view yet he is rich spiritually.
Q. Who has freed his life from rumours and how?
Ans. A happy man has freed himself from rumours because he doesn’t core for the opinion of other people. He follows the dictates of his conscience and relies for support on it alone. Above all, his state is not so great that it can feed flatterers or tempt people to accuse him so that they may plunder when he is ruined. His poor state keeps them away.
Q. Explain these lines in your own words “who envies none that chance doth raise, Nor vice”?
Ans. In these lines the poet says that a happy man is one who does not envy anybody and who has risen to high position either by chance or through some wicked means. Above all, a happy man does not expect to rise to a higher position, nor he fear of his downfall. He leads a very simple, happy, and honest life.
Q. What is strong retreat of a happy man?
Ans. A man’s conscience is his strong retreat because he always follows the dictates of his conscience and relies for support on it alone.
Q. Explain the lines ” Whose state can neither flatterers feed, Nor ruin make oppressors great “.
Ans. In These lines the poet says that a happy man’s state is not so great that it can feed flatterers or tempt people to accuse him so that they may plunder when he is ruined. His poor state keeps them away.