Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works


          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,                10
          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;                   20
          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,                      30
          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;                    40
          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,                   50
          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;                 60
          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                  70
          Where what he most doth value must be won:
          Whom neither shape of 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--                        80
          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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