Character of the Happy Warrior

Original Text: 
Wordsworth's Poems, in Two Volumes (1807): A Facsimile (London: British Library, 1984). bib MASS (Massey College Library, Toronto).
1  Who is the happy Warrior? Who is he
2That every man in arms should wish to be?
3--It is the generous Spirit, who, when brought
4Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought
5Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought:
6Whose high endeavours are an inward light
7That makes the path before him always bright;
8Who, with a natural instinct to discern
9What knowledge can perform, is diligent to learn;
10Abides by this resolve, and stops not there,
11But makes his moral being his prime care;
12Who, doomed to go in company with Pain,
13And Fear, and Bloodshed, miserable train!
14Turns his necessity to glorious gain;
15In face of these doth exercise a power
16Which is our human nature's highest dower:
17Controls them and subdues, transmutes, bereaves
18Of their bad influence, and their good receives:
19By objects, which might force the soul to abate
20Her feeling, rendered more compassionate;
21Is placable--because occasions rise
22So often that demand such sacrifice;
23More skilful in self-knowledge, even more pure,
24As tempted more; more able to endure,
25As more exposed to suffering and distress;
26Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.
27--'Tis he whose law is reason; who depends
28Upon that law as on the best of friends;
29Whence, in a state where men are tempted still
30To evil for a guard against worse ill,
31And what in quality or act is best
32Doth seldom on a right foundation rest,
33He labours good on good to fix, and owes
34To virtue every triumph that he knows:
35--Who, if he rise to station of command,
36Rises by open means; and there will stand
37On honourable terms, or else retire,
38And in himself possess his own desire;
39Who comprehends his trust, and to the same
40Keeps faithful with a singleness of aim;
41And therefore does not stoop, nor lie in wait
42For wealth, or honours, or for worldly state;
43Whom they must follow; on whose head must fall,
44Like showers of manna, if they come at all:
45Whose powers shed round him in the common strife,
46Or mild concerns of ordinary life,
47A constant influence, a peculiar grace;
48But who, if he be called upon to face
49Some awful moment to which Heaven has joined
50Great issues, good or bad for human kind,
51Is happy as a Lover; and attired
52With sudden brightness, like a Man inspired;
53And, through the heat of conflict, keeps the law
54In calmness made, and sees what he foresaw;
55Or if an unexpected call succeed,
56Come when it will, is equal to the need:
57--He who, though thus endued as with a sense
58And faculty for storm and turbulence,
59Is yet a Soul whose master-bias leans
60To homefelt pleasures and to gentle scenes;
61Sweet images! which, wheresoe'er he be,
62Are at his heart; and such fidelity
63It is his darling passion to approve;
64More brave for this, that he hath much to love:--
65'Tis, finally, the Man, who, lifted high,
66Conspicuous object in a Nation's eye,
67Or left unthought-of in obscurity,--
68Who, with a toward or untoward lot,
69Prosperous or adverse, to his wish or not--
70Plays, in the many games of life, that one
71Where what he most doth value must be won:
72Whom neither shape or danger can dismay,
73Nor thought of tender happiness betray;
74Who, not content that former worth stand fast,
75Looks forward, persevering to the last,
76From well to better, daily self-surpast:
77Who, whether praise of him must walk the earth
78For ever, and to noble deeds give birth,
79Or he must fall, to sleep without his fame,
80And leave a dead unprofitable name--
81Finds comfort in himself and in his cause;
82And, while the mortal mist is gathering, draws
83His breath in confidence of Heaven's applause:
84This is the happy Warrior; this is he
85That every man in arms should wish to be.
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
J. D. Robins
RPO Edition: 
2RP 2.60.