CoachingWord & Deed

The Character of the Happy Warrior

By William Wordsworth
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.