Tuesday, February 19, 2013


True Happiness

Owen Feltham (1602?–1668), "True Happinesse," in Lusoria: or Occasional Pieces. With a Taste of Some Letters (London: Printed for Anne Seile, 1661), pp. 3-4:
Long have I sought the wish of all
To find; and what it is men call
True Happiness; but cannot see
The world has it, which it can be.
Or with it Hold a sympathy.

He that enjoyes, what here below
Frail Elements have to bestow,
Shall find most sweet, bare hopes at first;
Fruition, by fruition's burst:
Sea-water so allayes your thirst.

Whos'ever would be happy then,
Must be so to himself: For when
Judges are taken from without,
To judge what we (fenc'd close about)
Are: they judge not, but guesse and doubt.

He must have reason store, to spy
Natures hid ways, to satisfie
His judgment. So he may be safe
From the vain fret: for fools will chafe
At that, which makes a wise man laugh.

If 'bove the mean his mind be pitcht,
Or with unruly Passions twicht,
A storm is there: But he sails most
Secure, whose Bark in any Coast
Can neither be becalm'd nor tost.

A chearful, but an upright heart
Is musick wheresoe're thou art:
And where God pleaseth to confer it,
Man can no greater good inherit,
Then is a clear and temperate spirit.

Wealth to keep want away, and Fear
Of it: Not more: some Friends, still near,
And chosen well: nor must he misse
A Calling: yet, some such as is
Imployment; not a Businesse.

His soul must hug no private sin,
For that's a thorne hid by the skin.
But Innocence, where she is nurs'd,
Plants valiant Peace. So Cato durst
Be God-like good, when Rome was worst.

God built he must be in his mind;
That is, part God: whose faith no wind
Can shake. When boldly he relies
On one so noble; he out-flies
Low chance, and fate of Destinies.

Life as a middle way, immur'd
With joy and grief, to be indur'd,
Not spurn'd, nor wanton'd hence, he knows.
In crooked banks, a spring so flows
O're stone, mud, weeds: yet still cleer goes.

And as springs rest not, till they lead
Meandring high, as their first head:
So souls rest not, till man has trod
Deaths height. Then by that period,
They rest too, rais'd as high as God.

Summe all! he happiest is, that can
In this worlds Jarr be Honest Man.
For since Perfection is so high,
Beyond lifes reach, he that would try
True happinesse indeed, must dye.

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