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Character of the Happy Warrior

William Wordsworth 1770 (Wordsworth House) – 1850 (Cumberland)

. Who is the happy Warrior? Who is he
  That every man in arms should wish to be?
  --It is the generous Spirit, who, when brought
  Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought
  Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought:
  Whose high endeavours are an inward light
  That makes the path before him always bright;
  Who, with a natural instinct to discern
  What knowledge can perform, is diligent to learn;
  Abides by this resolve, and stops not there,
  But makes his moral being his prime care;
  Who, doomed to go in company with Pain,
  And Fear, and Bloodshed, miserable train!
  Turns his necessity to glorious gain;
  In face of these doth exercise a power
  Which is our human nature's highest dower:
  Controls them and subdues, transmutes, bereaves
  Of their bad influence, and their good receives:
  By objects, which might force the soul to abate
  Her feeling, rendered more compassionate;
  Is placable--because occasions rise
  So often that demand such sacrifice;
  More skilful in self-knowledge, even more pure,
  As tempted more; more able to endure,
  As more exposed to suffering and distress;
  Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.
  --'Tis he whose law is reason; who depends
  Upon that law as on the best of friends;
  Whence, in a state where men are tempted still
  To evil for a guard against worse ill,
  And what in quality or act is best
  Doth seldom on a right foundation rest,
  He labours good on good to fix, and owes
  To virtue every triumph that he knows:
  --Who, if he rise to station of command,
  Rises by open means; and there will stand
  On honourable terms, or else retire,
  And in himself possess his own desire;
  Who comprehends his trust, and to the same
  Keeps faithful with a singleness of aim;
  And therefore does not stoop, nor lie in wait
  For wealth, or honours, or for worldly state;
  Whom they must follow; on whose head must fall,
  Like showers of manna, if they come at all:
  Whose powers shed round him in the common strife,
  Or mild concerns of ordinary life,
  A constant influence, a peculiar grace;
  But who, if he be called upon to face
  Some awful moment to which Heaven has joined
  Great issues, good or bad for human kind,
  Is happy as a Lover; and attired
  With sudden brightness, like a Man inspired;
  And, through the heat of conflict, keeps the law
  In calmness made, and sees what he foresaw;
  Or if an unexpected call succeed,
  Come when it will, is equal to the need:
  --He who, though thus endued as with a sense
  And faculty for storm and turbulence,
  Is yet a Soul whose master-bias leans
  To homefelt pleasures and to gentle scenes;
  Sweet images! which, wheresoe'er he be,
  Are at his heart; and such fidelity
  It is his darling passion to approve;
  More brave for this, that he hath much to love:--
  'Tis, finally, the Man, who, lifted high,
  Conspicuous object in a Nation's eye,
  Or left unthought-of in obscurity,--
  Who, with a toward or untoward lot,
  Prosperous or adverse, to his wish or not--
  Plays, in the many games of life, that one
  Where what he most doth value must be won:
  Whom neither shape or danger can dismay,
  Nor thought of tender happiness betray;
  Who, not content that former worth stand fast,
  Looks forward, persevering to the last,
  From well to better, daily self-surpast:
  Who, whether praise of him must walk the earth
  For ever, and to noble deeds give birth,
  Or he must fall, to sleep without his fame,
  And leave a dead unprofitable name--
  Finds comfort in himself and in his cause;
  And, while the mortal mist is gathering, draws
  His breath in confidence of Heaven's applause:
  This is the happy Warrior; this is he
  That every man in arms should wish to be.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:14 min read

William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth was the husband of Eva Bartok. more…

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