Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  The Contented Man

Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Contented Man

By John Adams (1704–1740)

[Born, 1704. Minister of Newport, R. I. Died at Cambridge, Mass., 1740. From Poems on Several Occasions. 1745.]

HAPPY the man, who, in a calm of soul,

Can all his warring passions’ waves control;—

Who stands unmoved, and hears the rustling wind

Of malice strive to shake his steadfast mind;

From whose clear breast full satisfaction boils,

While in his cheeks rejoice the cheerful smiles.

In vain would Envy with her harpy claws

His peace destroy, or prey upon his joys.

He feels, he feels perpetual rivulets run,

Of joys immortal, in his breast begun:

Looking to future bliss, his ravished eyes

Behold the blushing dawn of glories rise.

He sees the mansions ever clear and bright,

The fields all purpled with distinguished light;

For these his panting breast with ardor heaves,

For these the world in his desires he leaves:—

The glittering tinsel of its gaudy shows,

And wealth which in a golden current flows.

The lofty seats to which the great aspire,

And pleasures which the madding youth admire,—

All wear no charms in his discerning eyes,

Whose high affection dwells above the skies.

In Scythian realms, where hoary winter reigns,

And binds the running streams with icy chains,

A heavenly fervor ever burns within,

Warms his cool thoughts, and gives him peace unseen.

If under Phœbus’ piercing beams he dwells,

A cooling spring of inward ease he feels.

No riches swell to vanity his soul,

Who knows the fount from whence those riches roll.

No want contracts the largeness of his thoughts,

And nothing grieves him but his conscious faults;

He makes his God his everlasting tower,

And in his firm munition stands secure.