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Poems About Happiness

Table of Contents


  1. True Happiness by Richard Lynott O'Malley
  2. A Happy Man by Edwin Arlington Robinson
  3. Open Hearted by Charles Swain
  4. If I Were A Sunbeam by Alice Cary
  5. Excerpt from "The Twelfth Night Star" by Bliss Carman
  6. Happiness by Alexander Pope
  7. The Jolly Old Pedagogue by George Arnold
  8. A Disagreement by Raymond Garfield Dandridge
  9. To Happiness by Ruby Archer
  10. The Character of a Happy Life by Sir Henry Wotton
  11. Happy Thought by Robert Louis Stevenson
  12. The Song of the Weather by Anonymous
  13. The Cure of Melancholy by Carlos Wilcox
  14. Compensation by Emily Dickinson
  15. Is bliss, then, such abyss by Emily Dickinson
  16. To a Robin by William Francis Barnard
  17. Happiness by Eliza Wolcott
  18. If All the Skies by Henry van Dyke
  19. On Happiness by Benjamin Hine
  20. Happiness Is To Be Found In God Alone by Eliza Wolcott
  21. Happiness Not To Be Found Upon Earth by Eliza Wolcott
  22. There Is a Difference by William Henry Dawson
  23. The Way to be Happy by Jane Taylor
  24. Joy

  25. Joy and Sorrow by James G. Brooks
  26. Joy by Charles Swain
  27. No Lasting Joy Below by Eliza Wolcott
  28. Away, Sad Voices by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
  29. Lost Joy by Emily Dickinson
  30. The Test by Emily Dickinson
  31. The Rainbow by John Keble


  1. Cheerfulness by Edwin Oscar Gale
  2. Cheerfulness by John Edward Everett
  3. On Cheerfulness by Eliza Wolcott
  4. Cheerfulness by Marian Douglas
  5. Cheer Up! by Anonymous
  6. November by Emily Dickinson
  7. Contentment

  8. The Shepherd Boy sings in the Valley of Humiliation by John Bunyan
  9. Put on the Shoe by Amos Russel Wells
  10. Contented John by Jane Taylor
  11. Day by Day by Anonymous
  12. The Great Voices by Charles T. Brooks
  13. Life Music by Ruby Archer
  14. Contentment by Peter Burn
  15. My Prayer by Amos Russel Wells
  16. My Mind by William Byrd
  17. Forbidden Fruit (II.) by Emily Dickinson
  18. Cleon and I by Charles Mackay
  19. Kneeling With Herrick by James Whitcomb Riley
  20. A Warm House and a Ruddy Fire by Edgar A. Guest
  21. Ode on Solitude by Alexander Pope
  22. The Happiest Heart by John Vance Cheney
  23. Two Pictures by Annie D. Green
  24. Contentment by John E. Everett
  25. Discontent by Ellen P. Allerton
  26. Pleasure and Delight

  27. On Pleasure by Eliza Wolcott
  28. Delight becomes pictorial by Emily Dickinson
  29. Living by Edgar A. Guest
  30. Gladness

  31. Gladness by Anna Hempstead Branch


Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.

– Anonymous
(often mistakenly attributed to Thoreau or Hawthorne)
  1. True Happiness

    by Richard Lynott O'Malley

    Be happy, be happy, I bid the sad mind,
    But learn what true happiness is:
    When a dutiful man has a heart good and kind,
    True happiness surely is his.

  2. A Happy Man

    by Edwin Arlington Robinson

    When these graven lines you see,
    Traveller, do not pity me;
    Though I be among the dead,
    Let no mournful word be said.

    Children that I leave behind,
    And their children, all were kind;
    Near to them and to my wife,
    I was happy all my life.

    My three sons I married right,
    And their sons I rocked at night;
    Death nor sorrow never brought
    Cause for one unhappy thought.

    Now, and with no need of tears,
    Here they leave me, full of years,—
    Leave me to my quiet rest
    In the region of the blest.

  3. Open Hearted

    by Charles Swain

    If you wish to be happy at home,
    Then your heart to that wish is the door—
    Keep it open—and angels may come,
    And enter, and dwell evermore!
    O'er each feeling a ray will be cast,
    As if lit by some magical gem;
    You will think you've found Heaven at last,
    But the angels have brought it with them.

    Keep it open—and friendship and love
    And happiness—all—will be thine:
    A gleam of Elysium above!
    A spark of the spirit divine!
    Keep it shut—and then Pride will have birth,
    And Envy—and all we condemn;
    You will think you've perdition on earth,
    Pride and Envy have brought it with them.

    The world will seem colder each day;
    'Tis an image those demons but throw,
    Cast your pride and your envy away—
    And the world's seeming coldness will go.
    Oh! 'tis well to be happy at home,
    And to this your own heart is the door;
    Keep it open and angels may come
    And enter, and dwell evermore.

  4. If I Were A Sunbeam

    by Alice Cary

    "If I were a sunbeam,
    I know what I'd do;
    I would seek white lilies,
    Roaming woodlands through.
    I would steal among them,
    Softest light I'd shed,
    Until every lily
    Raised its drooping head.

    "If I were a sunbeam,
    I know where I'd go;
    Into lowly hovels,
    Dark with want and woe:
    Till sad hearts looked upward,
    I would shine and shine;
    Then they'd think of heaven,
    Their sweet home and mine."

    Are you not a sunbeam,
    Child, whose life is glad
    With an inner brightness
    Sunshine never had?
    Oh, as God has blessed you,
    Scatter light divine!
    For there is no sunbeam
    But must die or shine.

  5. Excerpt from "The Twelfth Night Star"

    by Bliss Carman

    Whoever wakens on a day
    Happy to know and be,
    To enjoy the air, to love his kind,
    To labor, to be free,—
    Already his enraptured soul
    Lives in eternity.

    For him with every rising sun
    The year begins anew;
    The fertile earth receives her lord,
    And prophecy comes true,
    Wondrously as a fall of snow,
    Dear as a drench of dew.

  6. Happiness

    Act well your part, there all the honor lies.

    – Alexander Pope
    Alexander Pope

    Oh, sons of earth! attempt ye still to rise,
    By mountains piled on mountains, to the skies?
    Heaven still with laughter the vain toil surveys,
    And buries madmen in the heaps they raise.
    Know all the good that individuals find,
    Or God and nature meant to mere mankind.
    Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of sense,
    Lie in three words,—health, peace, and competence.

    But health consists with temperance alone;
    And peace, O virtue! peace is all thy own.
    The good or bad the gifts of fortune gain;
    But these less taste them as they worse obtain.
    Say, in pursuit of profit or delight,
    Who risk the most, that take wrong means or right?
    Of vice or virtue, whether blest or curst,
    Which meets contempt, or which compassion first?

    Count all th' advantage prosperous vice attains,
    'T is but what virtue flies from and disdains:
    And grant the bad what happiness they would,
    One they must want, which is, to pass for good.
    Oh, blind to truth, and God's whole scheme below,
    Who fancy bliss to vice, to virtue woe!
    Who sees and follows that great scheme the best,
    Best knows the blessing, and will most be blest.

    But fools the good alone unhappy call,
    For ills or accidents that chance to all.
    Think we, like some weak prince, the Eternal Cause,
    Prone for his favorites to reverse his laws?
    Shall burning AEtna, if a sage requires,
    Forget to thunder, and recall her fires?
    When the loose mountain trembles from on high,
    Shall gravitation cease, if you go by?

    "But sometimes virtue starves while vice is fed."
    What, then? Is the reward of virtue bread?
    That, vice may merit, 't is the price of toil;
    The knave deserves it when he tills the soil,
    The knave deserves it when he tempts the main,
    Where folly fights for kings or dives for gain.
    Honor and shame from no condition rise;
    Act well your part, there all the honor lies.

    Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow;
    The rest is all but leather or prunella.
    A wit's a feather, and a chief a rod,
    An honest man's the noblest work of God.
    One self-approving hour whole years outweighs
    Of stupid starers, and of loud huzzas.

    Know then this truth (enough for man to know),
    "Virtue alone is happiness below."
    The only point where human bliss stands still,
    And tastes the good without the fall to ill;
    Where only merit constant pay receives,
    Is blest in what it takes and what it gives.

  7. The Jolly Old Pedagogue

    George Arnold

    'T was a jolly old pedagogue, long ago,
    Tall, and slender, and sallow, and dry;
    His form was bent, and his gait was slow,
    And his long, thin hair was white as snow,
    But a wonderful twinkle shone in his eye:
    And he sang every night as he went to bed,
    "Let us be happy down here below;
    The living should live, though the dead be dead,"
    Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

    He taught the scholars the Rule of Three,
    Reading, and writing, and history too;
    He took the little ones on his knee,
    For a kind old heart in his breast had he,
    And the wants of the littlest child he knew.
    "Learn while you're young," he often said,
    "There is much to enjoy down here below;
    Life for the living, and rest for the dead!"
    Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

    With the stupidest boys, he was kind and cool,
    Speaking only in gentlest tones;
    The rod was scarcely known in his school—
    Whipping to him was a barbarous rule,
    And too hard work for his poor old bones;
    Besides it was painful, he sometimes said:
    "We should make life pleasant down here below—
    The living need charity more than the dead,"
    Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

    He lived in the house by the hawthorn lane,
    With roses and woodbine over the door;
    His rooms were quiet, and neat, and plain,
    But a spirit of comfort there held reign,
    And made him forget he was old and poor.
    "I need so little," he often said;
    "And my friends and relatives here below
    Won't litigate over me when I am dead,"
    Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

    But the pleasantest times he had of all,
    Were the sociable hours he used to pass,
    With his chair tipped back to a neighbor's wall,
    Making an unceremonious call, Over a pipe and a friendly glass:
    This was the finest pleasure, he said,
    Of the many he tasted here below:
    "Who has no cronies had better be dead,"
    Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

    The jolly old pedagogue's wrinkled face
    Melted all over in sunshiny smiles;
    He stirred his glass with an old-school grace,
    Chuckled, and sipped, and prattled apace,
    Till the house grew merry from cellar to tiles.
    "I'm a pretty old man," he gently said,
    "I've lingered a long time here below;
    But my heart is fresh, if my youth is fled!"
    Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

    He smoked his pipe in the balmy air
    Every night, when the sun went down;
    And the soft wind played in his silvery hair,
    Leaving its tenderest kisses there,
    On the jolly old pedagogue's jolly old crown;
    And feeling the kisses, he smiled, and said:
    " 'T is it glorious world down here below;
    Why wait for happiness till we are dead?"
    Said this jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

    He sat at his door one midsummer night,
    After the sun had sunk in the west,
    And the lingering beams of golden light
    Made his kindly old face look warm and bright,
    While the odorous night winds whispered, "Rest!"
    Gently, gently, he bowed his head;
    There were angels waiting for him, I know;
    He was sure of his happiness, living or dead,
    This jolly old pedagogue, long ago!

  8. A Disagreement

    by Raymond Garfield Dandridge

    You say "That man was made to mourn."
    Would you have me believe it—
    Believe earth holds no recompense
    Until death bids me leave it—
    Believe there is but misery
    And toil on toil, in store for me?

    No. I do not, cannot believe,
    While heaven smiles above me,
    That I was doom'd on earth to mourn
    With naught to cheer or love me.
    Wise Bard, although your dirge rings true,
    I do not agree with you.

  9. To Happiness

    by Ruby Archer

    O Happiness, how meagre
    The boon we gain of thee:
    A hint ineffable, a thrill,
    A coming ecstasy;

    And then the cup, eluding,
    Has vanished into air,
    And we—like Tantalus—are left
    Attaining but despair;

    Or, luring hope, it lingers
    A moment at the lip,
    A drop of life-elixir gives,—
    A tiny, tiny sip.

    Our fever grows to anguish
    To see it flee away,
    For promise of a deeper draught
    Will not our thirst allay.

    When may we drain thy beaker
    Untroubled, undenied?
    Or shall we never, never know
    The feeling—satisfied?

  10. The Character of a Happy Life

    by Sir Henry Wotton

    How happy is he born or taught,
    That serveth not another's will;
    Whose armour is his honest thought,
    And simple truth his highest skill;

    Whose passions not his masters are;
    Whose soul is still prepar'd for death
    Untied unto the world with care
    Of princes' grace or vulgar breath;

    Who envies none whom chance doth raise,
    Or vice; who never understood
    The deepest wounds are given by praise,
    By rule of state, but not of good;

    Who hath his life from rumours freed;
    Whose conscience is his strong retreat;
    Whose state can neither flatterers feed,
    Nor ruins make accusers great;

    Who God doth late and early pray,
    More of his grace than goods to send,
    And entertains the harmless day
    With a well-chosen book or friend.

    This man is free from servile bands
    Of hope to rise or fear to fall;
    Lord of himself, though not of lands;
    And having nothing, yet hath all.

  11. Happy Thought

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    The world is so full of a number of things,
    I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.

  12. The Song of the Weather

    by Anonymous

    "The heart of the world beats aloof from our lives.
    Under a sweet-browed, happy sky
    Saints live sadly and sadly die;
    Our joy with a sullen heaven strives;
    The firmament cannon sound peal on peal
    When nothing but foolish deeds is done,
    Yet a shuddering through men's hearts may run
    And all the nations in anguish kneel
    Beneath a faultlessly smiling sun."

    But the hushed, bare treetops all carol together
    When the bird in my heart is singing,
    And the dark sky glimmers in cloudy weather
    When up through the parting soul-mists springing
    My spirit has broken its tether,
    And all things sullen and dumb and drear
    To the listening spirit attuned to hear
    With heaven's still music are ringing.

    Lo. I am the lord of my storm and my sun!
    Lo, I am the lord of my sky and my rain!
    My soul is at home in a happy domain
    Vaulted o'er by the smile of the Beautiful One.
    He gave me the sceptre; and shall I not reign?

  13. The Cure of Melancholy

    by Carlos Wilcox

    And thou to whom long worshipp'd nature lends
    No strength to fly from grief or bear its weight,
    Stop not to rail at foes or fickle friends,
    Nor set the world at naught, nor spurn at fate;
    None seek thy misery, none thy being hate;
    Break from thy former self, thy life begin;
    Do thou the good thy thoughts oft meditate,
    And thou shalt feel the good man's peace within,
    And at thy dying day his wreath of glory win.

    With deeds of virtue to embalm his name,
    He dies in triumph or serene delight;
    Weaker and weaker grows his mortal frame
    At every breath, but in immortal might
    His spirit grows, preparing for its flight:
    The world recedes and fades like clouds of even,
    But heaven comes nearer fast, and grows more bright,
    All intervening mists far off are driven;
    The world will vanish soon, and all will soon be heaven.

    Wouldst thou from sorrow find a sweet relief?
    Or is thy heart oppress'd with woes untold?
    Balm wouldst thou gather for corroding grief?
    Pour blessings round thee like a shower of gold:
    'Tis when the rose is wrapp'd in many a fold
    Close to its heart, the worm is wasting there
    Its life and beauty; not, when all unrolled,
    Leaf after leaf its bosom rich and fair
    Breathes freely its perfumes throughout the ambient air.

    Wake thou that sleepest in enchanted bowers,
    Lest these lost years should haunt thee on the night
    When death is waiting for thy number'd hours
    To take their swift and everlasting flight;
    Wake ere the earthborn charm unnerve thee quite,
    And be thy thoughts to work divine address'd;
    Do something—do it soon—with all thy might;
    An angel's wing would droop if long at rest,
    And God himself inactive were no longer bless'd.

    Some high or humble enterprise of good
    Contemplate till it shall possess thy mind,
    Become thy study, pastime, rest, and food,
    And kindle in thy heart a flame refined;
    Pray Heaven for firmness thy whole soul to bind
    To this thy purpose—to begin, pursue,
    With thoughts all fix'd and feelings purely kind,
    Strength to complete, and with delight review,
    And grace to give the praise where all is ever due.

  14. Compensation

    by Emily Dickinson

    For each ecstatic instant
    We must an anguish pay
    In keen and quivering ratio
    To the ecstasy.

    For each beloved hour
    Sharp pittances of years,
    Bitter contested farthings
    And coffers heaped with tears.

  15. Is bliss, then, such abyss

    by Emily Dickinson

    Is bliss, then, such abyss
    I must not put my foot amiss
    For fear I spoil my shoe?

    I'd rather suit my foot
    Than save my boot,
    For yet to buy another pair
    Is possible
    At any fair.

    But bliss is sold just once;
    The patent lost
    None buy it any more.

  16. To a Robin

    by William Francis Barnard

    Melodious bird upon the bough,
    Tell me the secret of thy glee;
    With tears at heart and clouded brow,
    I linger, listening to thee.
    I pause, bewildered at thy soul,
    Which pours itself in strains so high
    Upon this world of doom and dole;
    Where sorrows live and raptures die.

    Thy pleasures, too, are mixed with pain;
    I have my griefs, and thou hast thine.
    Thou sufferest from the wind and rain;
    In famine thou full oft dost pine.
    Thy nested young, perhaps, are dead,
    Or thy blue eggs were stolen away;
    But still thou liftest up thine head
    To carol to each dawning day.

    Hast thou a strength that I must miss:
    Or inner light which knows no dark?
    Dost thou command some purer bliss
    Which naught adverse has might to mark,
    That thou art aye, as now, serene
    Despite whatever fates may fall?
    Hast thou some good in all things seen,
    And sweetly singest each and all?

    Or art thou of the vagrant glad,
    Who rarely feel the touch of fear;
    Too blithe within to e'er be sad,
    Or hold a vanished joy too dear?
    Say, dost thou quick forget thy woe,
    And lightly lilt o'er thought's emprise?
    Seems it true wisdom not to know,
    And fatuous folly to be wise?

    Thou answerest not, but still dost sing
    As though thy heart would burst with joy.
    Whate'er thou art, glad, winged thing,
    Grief cannot hurt thee or destroy.
    I harkening stand, and sobs repress,
    Where hope is brief and life is long,
    To wonder o'er thy lightsomeness
    And envy thee that happier song!

  17. Happiness

    Contentment gives new graces;
    This talent well refines;
    And sorrow, ne'er defaces,
    The pearl, where wisdom shines.

    – Eliza Wolcott
    by Eliza Wolcott

    'Tis not where smiles and feasting
    Leave many a sighing breast
    'Tis not where gold's increasing
    That gives the soul its rest

    'Tis found alone, where trouble
    Has purified the soul;
    Then happiness makes double,
    And crowns with peace the whole.

    Contentment gives new graces;
    This talent well refines;
    And sorrow, ne'er defaces,
    The pearl, where wisdom shines.

  18. If All the Skies

    by Henry van Dyke

    If all the skies were sunshine,
    Our faces would be fain
    To feel once more upon them
    The cooling splash of rain.

    If all the world were music,
    Our hearts would often long
    For one sweet strain of silence,
    To break the endless song.

    If life were always merry,
    Our souls would seek relief,
    And rest from weary laughter
    In the quiet arms of grief.

  19. On Happiness

    by Benjamin Hine

    What is happiness below?
    'Tis happiness, ourselves know,
    If our bosoms, filled with peace,
    Speak from sin a sweet release—
    'Tis our happiness to feel
    Good wishes for another's weal;
    To have our hearts united by
    Friendship's tender, soothing tie;
    'Tis our happiness to be,
    Free from strife and enmity,
    To breathe no sentiment but love,
    For all below and all above.

  20. Happiness Is To Be Found In God Alone

    by Eliza and Sarah Wolcott

    I've seen earth's prospects blasted,
    To me they've died away;
    But heaven's bright promise lasted,
    Which never can decay.

    I've felt the fond emotion
    Of pity and of love;
    But nothing's like devotion,
    Which lifts the heart above.

    Then earth may tell her story,
    Of pomp and all its gain;
    To me this boasted glory,
    Is nothing worth—'tis vain.

    To know that God approveth,
    Is better far than wealth;
    He chastens those he loveth,
    To keep their souls in health.

    True value, and true glory,
    His word will then unfold;
    This is no transient story,
    But truth confirm'd of old.

    'Tis this can give us pleasure,
    When friends away are fleeting,
    Be this my lasting treasure,
    When life's last pulse is beating.

  21. Happiness Not To Be Found Upon Earth

    by Eliza and Sarah Wolcott

    Hours of peace, and tranquil pleasure,
    Scarce are found in hearts below;
    And the friend we call a treasure,
    Falls beneath Death's cruel blow.

    Life, and health, we call a blessing,
    Sure it is, if well improv'd;
    Yet the thought of sin's distressing,
    Makes one sigh, as all have prov'd.

    Yet the gift of life's a short one,
    Health is ever on the wing;
    Soon our life is gone, 'tis done,—
    Transient life's a feeble string.

    May we tune our harps for heaven,—
    Strive to walk the narrow way;
    How our Savior's life was given,
    For those sheep who go astray.

    Let us highly prize this treasure,
    Let us own His holy name;
    Let it be our highest pleasure,
    To be true followers of the Lamb.

  22. No Lasting Joy Below

    by Eliza and Sarah Wolcott

    Bright fancy leads the youthful mind
    To seek some joy below;
    But 'ere old age creeps on, we find
    The scene is chang'd for wo.

    How brilliant are the various scenes,
    That prompt the youth to sow
    His seed to fancy's airy dreams,
    Which disappoint below.

    But there's a bark, whose gilded oar
    Invite the youth to row;
    Thus he ascends, then upward soars,
    And leaves all grief below.

    His part is heaven, and God's his friend,
    Who doth to him bestow
    A crown of love, which will amend
    For pangs of grief below.

  23. There Is a Difference

    So, my friend, take my advice,
    Don't let me have to tell you twice,
    If you would ever happy be,
    Don't be sour with all you see,
    But be joyous, happy and free.

    – William Henry Dawson
    There Is a Difference
    by William Henry Dawson

    There is cause for many stings,
    In the way some folks do things,
    Some go at it "hammer 'n' tongs,"
    Some with curses, some with songs;
    But to each some trait belongs,

    Some have soured on everything,
    Can't find aught without a sting,
    There are others not so sour,
    Who find on every thorn a flower,
    And for good they are a power,

    As I've traveled life's pathway,
    I've found grumbling doesn't pay,
    Of the kicker folks have tired;
    He's no longer much admired,
    From good company he's been "fired,"

    As I walk along the street,
    I look for the good and sweet,
    All the sour ones I pass by,
    And the only reason why—
    I couldn't like them if I'd try,

    So, my friend, take my advice,
    Don't let me have to tell you twice,
    If you would ever happy be,
    Don't be sour with all you see,
    But be joyous, happy and free.

    As vain as dreams, are all our hopes, below,
    Of happiness, which ne'er makes good her name,
    But leaves an aching void in all, to show
    That truth and wisdom are her only claim.

    – Eliza Wolcott
    On Dreams
  24. The Way to Be Happy

    by Jane Taylor

    How pleasant it is at the end of the day,
    No follies to have to repent,
    But reflect on the past and be able to say,
    My time has been properly spent!

    When I’ve done all my business with patience and care,
    And been good, and obliging, and kind,
    I lie on my pillow and sleep away there,
    With a happy and peaceable mind.

    Instead of all this, if it must be confest,
    That I careless and idle have been,
    I lie down as usual, and go to my rest,
    But feel discontented within.

    Then as I dislike all the trouble I’ve had,
    In future I’ll try to prevent it,
    For I never am naughty without being sad,
    Or good—without being contented.

  25. Cheerfulness

  26. Cheerfulness

    by Edwin Oscar Gale

    As placid lake reflects the sun,
    Which ruffled cannot do,
    Your cheerful face to every one
    Returns like smiles to you.
    The loved, who look to us when night
    Gives respite to our cares,
    Grow stronger when our faces, bright
    Reflect the smiles of theirs.

    Clouds do not melt the winter's snow,
    Nor lift the ice from streams,
    The crystal diamonds fail to flow
    Till warmed by solar beams.
    The nightshade thrives in gloomy meads,
    But roses in the sun,
    And hearts soon grow but noxious weeds
    If smiles their portals shun.
    We turn unto a happy face
    As magnet to its star;
    The frowns that may awhile deface
    By smiles soon scattered are.
    We to ourselves and others owe
    Kind words and gentleness,
    Whatever kindness we bestow,
    Returns ourselves to bless.

  27. Cheerfulness

    by John Edward Everett

    A scowling sky, a gloomy day,
    A day quite like a sullen boy
    But tell the rest:
    My sun is bright, my hours are gay:
    My sun is cheerfulness; and joy
    Is in my breast.

    Monotony and sameness brood;
    There's naught to prompt a laugh or smile;
    But none the less,
    A something stirs my happy mood,
    And keeps me smiling all the while;
    'Tis cheerfulness.

    Today unpleasant things I find,
    Unpleasant duties and events;
    Yet 'tis a day
    Made pleasant by a cheerful mind,
    And work is play.

    In cheerfulness lie magic powers
    That mix sweet pleasures with our pain,
    And smiles with tears;
    That brighten up our darkest hours
    And mingle sunshine with the rain,
    And hopes with fears.

  28. On Cheerfulness

    A cheerful smile is like that star
    Which guides the sailor's helm;
    And thus the land is seen afar,
    Which darkness would overwhelm.

    – Eliza Wolcott
    On Cheerfulness
    by Eliza Wolcott

    There is a friend that softens care,
    When health and spirit's low,
    Requires a heart to feel and share
    In either weal or wo.

    A cheerful smile is like that star
    Which guides the sailor's helm;
    And thus the land is seen afar,
    Which darkness would overwhelm.

    A cheerful heart should be refin'd
    With truth and constancy;
    Then Bethlehem's Star lights up the mind,
    And sets the captive free.

    This happy gift when thus possess'd,
    Survives the darkest storm;
    For this bless'd star lives in the breast,
    Then ushers in the morn.

  29. Cheerfulness

    by Marian Douglas

    There is a little maiden—
    Who is she? Do you know?
    Who always has a welcome,
    Wherever she may go.

    Her face is like the May time,
    Her voice is like the bird's;
    The sweetest of all music
    Is in her lightsome words.

    Each spot she makes the brighter,
    As if she were the sun;
    And she is sought and cherished
    And loved by everyone;

    By old folks and by children,
    By loft and by low;
    Who is this little maiden?
    Does anybody know?

    You surely must have met her.
    You certainly can guess;
    What! I must introduce her?
    Her name is Cheeerfulness.

  30. Cheer Up!

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Cheer up! for the sun is a-shining
    Somewhere, in the heart of the sky;
    Cheer up! for the folly of whining
    Is close to the sin of a lie.
    Cheer up! for the burden of sorrow
    Has ever a coming relief;
    Cheer up! there's a brighter to-morrow
    Cheer up! there's an ending of grief.

    Cheer up! or the present is wasted,
    The beautiful, only, to-day;
    Cheer up! till a beaker is tasted
    Why turn in abhorrence away
    Cheer up! for good sense is a leaven
    To lighten the load of a fear;
    Cheer up! for all God and all heaven
    Are offered, and eager, and here.

  31. November

    by Emily Dickinson

    Besides the autumn poets sing,
    A few prosaic days
    A little this side of the snow
    And that side of the haze.

    A few incisive mornings,
    A few ascetic eyes, —
    Gone Mr. Bryant's golden-rod,
    And Mr. Thomson's sheaves.

    Still is the bustle in the brook,
    Sealed are the spicy valves;
    Mesmeric fingers softly touch
    The eyes of many elves.

    Perhaps a squirrel may remain,
    My sentiments to share.
    Grant me, O Lord, a sunny mind,
    Thy windy will to bear!

  32. Response

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    I said this morning, as I leaned and threw
    My shutters open to the Spring's surprise,
    "Tell me, O Earth, how is it that in you
    Year after year the same fresh feelings rise?
    How do you keep your young exultant glee?
    No more those sweet emotions come to me.

    "I note through all your fissures, how the tide
    Of healthful life goes leaping as of old.
    Your royal dawns retain their pomp and pride;
    Your sunsets lose no atom of their gold.
    How can this wonder be?" My soul's fine ear
    Leaned, listening, till a small voice answered near:

    "My days lapse never over into night;
    My nights encroach not on the rights of dawn.
    I rush not breathless after some delight;
    I waste no grief for any pleasure gone.
    My July noons burn not the entire year.
    Heart, hearken well!" Yes, yes; go on; I hear.

    "I do not strive to make my sunsets' gold
    Pave all the dim and distant realms of space.
    I do not bid my crimson dawns unfold
    To lend the midnight a fictitious grace.
    I break no law, for all God's laws are good.
    Heart, hast thou heard?" Yes, yes; and understood.

  33. Contentment

    Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor.

    – Ben Franklin
    Poor Richard's Almanack
  34. Life Music

    by Ruby Archer

    We cannot all be nightingales;
    But minor minstrelsy,
    Where often splendid solo fails,
    Will comfort gratefully.

    And though a strong, high melody
    The world I may not bring,
    In alto through the harmony
    Contented I will sing.

  35. My Prayer

    by Amos Russel Wells

    I do not, ask my God, for mystic power
    To heal the sick and lame, the deaf and blind;
    I ask Thee humbly for the gracious dower
    Just to be kind.

    I do not pray to see the shining beauty
    Of highest knowledge most divinely true;
    I pray that, knowing well my simple duty,
    This I may do.

    I do not ask that men with flattering finger
    Should point me out within the crowded mart,
    But only that the thought of me may linger
    In one glad heart.

    I would not rise upon the men below me,
    Or pulling at the robes of men above;
    I would that friends, a few dear friends, may know me,
    And, knowing, love.

    I do not pray for palaces of splendor.
    Or far amid the world's delights to roam;
    I pray that I may know the meaning tender
    Of home, sweet home.

    I do not ask that heaven's golden treasure
    Upon my little, blundering life be spent;
    But oh, I ask Thee for the perfect pleasure
    Of calm content.

  36. The Shepherd Boy sings in the Valley of Humiliation

    He that is down needs fear no fall,
    He that is low, no pride;
    He that is humble ever shall
    Have God to be his guide.

    – John Bunyan
    The Shepherd Boy sings in the Valley of Humiliation
    by John Bunyan

    He that is down needs fear no fall,
    He that is low, no pride;
    He that is humble ever shall
    Have God to be his guide.

    I am content with what I have,
    Little be it or much:
    And, Lord, contentment still I crave,
    Because Thou savest such.

    Fullness to such a burden is
    That go on pilgrimage:
    Here little, and hereafter bliss,
    Is best from age to age.

  37. Put on the Shoe

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Have you heard the old saw of the Persians,
    That saying both witty and true,
    "The whole world is covered with leather
    To him who is shod with a shoe"?
    Fine calfskin or kid or morocco,
    Great cavalry boots armed with steel,
    The daintiest, jauntiest slippers,
    Coarse brogues tumbled down at the heel—
    What matter the differing fashions?—
    The richest and poorest of you
    Will find the whole world clad in leather
    As soon as you put on your shoe!
    Before, it was cold and uneven,
    Rough pebbles and sharp bits of glass,
    Now, presto! a smooth and warm pavement
    Wherever it please you to pass.

    But ah! there's a maid—have you seen her?—
    A little maid cheery and sweet,
    Who daintily trips, yet I see not
    What leather she wears on her feet;
    For I know by her sunny eyes' sparkle,
    And by the calm curve of her mouth,
    And by the kind grace of her manners,
    Like warm breezes fresh from the South,
    I know that wherever her foot falls
    On loving task speeding or sent—
    The cobbler may laugh, but I care not—
    She is shod with the shoe of content!

    And, little maid, though Cinderella
    Might claim your we shoe for her own,
    And borrowing's out of the question
    For me, with my "sevens" outgrown,
    Just whisper the secret, I pray thee;
    Come, what are the shop and the street,
    And where is the cobbler who fashions
    such beautiful gear for the feet?

    I'll go and I'll offer a treasure
    Will make his big spectacles shine,
    If only two shoes—somewhat larger—
    Like your little shoes, can be mine!
    And then I will don them, and leaping
    Off over the world will I go,
    Off over my frets and my worries,
    Off over my aches and my woe.
    And loudly to all limping grumblers
    My shoemaker cheer shall be sent;
    "The whole world is covered with gladness
    To him who is shod with content!"

  38. Contented John

    by Jane Taylor

    One honest John Tomkins, a hedger and ditcher,
    Although he was poor, did not want to be richer;
    For all such vain wishes in him were prevented
    By a fortunate habit of being contented.

    Though cold were the weather, or dear were the food,
    John never was found in a murmuring mood;
    For this he was constantly heard to declare,—
    What he could not prevent he would cheerfully bear.

    "For why should I grumble and murmur?" he said;
    "If I cannot get meat, I'll be thankful for bread;
    And, though fretting may make my calamities deeper,
    It can never cause bread and cheese to be cheaper."

    If John was afflicted with sickness or pain,
    He wished himself better, but did not complain,
    Nor lie down to fret in despondence and sorrow,
    But said that he hoped to be better to-morrow.

    If any one wronged him or treated him ill,
    Why, John was good-natured and sociable still;
    For he said that revenging the injury done
    Would be making two rogues when there need be but one.

    And thus honest John, though his station was humble,
    Passed through this sad world without even a grumble;
    And I wish that some folks, who are greater and richer,
    Would copy John Tomkins, the hedger and ditcher.

  39. The Great Voices

    Oh! sing, human heart, like the fountains,
    With joy reverential and free,
    Contented and calm as the mountains,
    And deep as the woods and the sea.

    – Charles T. Brooks
    The Great Voices
    by Charles T. Brooks

    A voice from the sea to the mountains,
    From the mountains again to the sea;
    A call from the deep to the fountains,—
    "O spirit! be glad and be free."

    A cry from the floods to the fountains;
    And the torrents repeat the glad song
    As they leap from the breast of the mountains,—
    "O spirit! be free and be strong."

    The pine forests thrill with emotion
    Of praise, as the spirit sweeps by:
    With a voice like the murmur of ocean
    To the soul of the listener they cry.

    Oh! sing, human heart, like the fountains,
    With joy reverential and free,
    Contented and calm as the mountains,
    And deep as the woods and the sea.

  40. Day by Day

    by Amos Russel Wells

    There's a beauty of the forest and a beauty of the hill;
    There's a splendor of the marshes, and another of the sea;
    In the meadow, on the mountain, there's a grace, a glory still,
    For the artist Lord of artists guideth me.

    And I will not chide the marshes in my longing for the wood,
    Nor the hill because the rivulet is gone,
    For the daily dole of beauty is the day's supremest good,
    And the path is reaching on, is reaching on.

  41. Contentment

    by Peter Burn

    Merry, joyous, dancing ever,
    Both in mild and stormy weather,
    Runs the little woodland river.

    Breathing sweetness every hour,
    During sunshine, during shower,
    Blooms the modest garden flower.

    Little birds are ever cheery,
    Paeans chant they, never weary,
    Though the sky be dark and dreary.

  42. My Mind

    by William Byrd

    My mind to me a kingdom is;
    Such perfect joy therein I find,
    As far exceeds all earthly bliss
    That God or nature hath assigned;
    Though much I want that most would have,
    Yet still my mind forbids to crave.

    No princely pomp, no wealthy store,
    No force to win the victory,
    No wily wit to salve a sore,
    No shape to feed a loving eye;
    To none of these I yield as thrall;
    For why? my mind doth serve for all.

    I see how plenty surfeits oft,
    And hasty climbers soon do fall;
    I see that those which are aloft
    Mishap doth threaten most of all:
    They get with toil, they keep with fear:
    Such cares my mind could never bear.

    Content I live, this is my stay;
    I seek no more than may suffice;
    I press to bear no haughty sway;
    Look, what I lack my mind supplies.
    Lo, thus I triumph like a king,
    Content with that my mind doth bring.

    Some have too much, yet still do crave;
    I little have, and seek no more.
    They are but poor, though much they have,
    And I am rich with little store;
    They poor, I rich; they beg, I give;
    They lack, I leave; they pine, I live.

    I laugh not at another’s loss,
    I grudge not at another’s gain;
    No worldly waves my mind can toss;
    My state at one doth still remain:
    I fear no foe, I fawn no friend;
    I loathe not life, nor dread my end.

    Some weigh their pleasure by their lust,
    Their wisdom by their rage of will;
    Their treasure is their only trust,
    A cloakèd craft their store of skill;
    But all the pleasure that I find
    Is to maintain a quiet mind.

    My wealth is health and perfect ease,
    My conscience clear my chief defence;
    I neither seek by bribes to please,
    Nor by deceit to breed offence:
    Thus do I live; thus will I die;
    Would all did so as well as I!

  43. Forbidden Fruit (II.)

    by Emily Dickinson

    Heaven is what I cannot reach!
    The apple on the tree,
    Provided it do hopeless hang,
    That 'heaven' is, to me.

    The color on the cruising cloud,
    The interdicted ground
    Behind the hill, the house behind, —
    There Paradise is found!

  44. Cleon and I

    by Charles Mackay

    Cleon hath ten thousand acres,
    Ne'er a one have I;
    Cleon dwelleth in a palace,
    In a cottage, I;
    Cleon hath a dozen fortunes,
    Not a penny, I,
    Yet the poorer of the twain is
    Cleon, and not I.

    Cleon, true, possesseth acres,
    But the landscape, I;
    Half the charms to me it yieldeth
    Money cannot buy;
    Cleon harbors sloth and dullness,
    Freshening vigor, I;
    He in velvet, I in fustian—
    Richer man am I.

    Cleon is a slave to grandeur,
    Free as thought am I;
    Cleon fees a score of doctors,
    Need of none have I;
    Wealth-surrounded, care-environed,
    Cleon fears to die;
    Death may come—he'll find me ready,
    Happier man am I.

    Cleon sees no charms in nature,
    In a daisy, I;
    Cleon hears no anthems ringing
    'Twixt the sea and sky;
    Nature sings to me forever,
    Earnest listener, I;
    State for state, with all attendants—
    Who would change?—Not I.

  45. Kneeling With Herrick

    by James Whitcomb Riley

    Dear Lord, to Thee my knee is bent.—
    Give me content—
    Full-pleasured with what comes to me,
    What e'er it be:
    An humble roof—a frugal board,
    And simple hoard;
    The wintry fagot piled beside
    The chimney wide,
    While the enwreathing flames up-sprout
    And twine about
    The brazen dogs that guard my hearth
    And household worth:
    Tinge with the ember's ruddy glow
    The rafters low;
    And let the sparks snap with delight,
    As ringers might
    That mark deft measures of some tune
    The children croon:
    Then, with good friends, the rarest few
    Thou holdest true,
    Ranged round about the blaze, to share
    My comfort there,—
    Give me to claim the service meet
    That makes each seat
    A place of honor, and each guest
    Loved as the rest.

  46. A Warm House and a Ruddy Fire

    by Edgar A. Guest

    A warm house and a ruddy fire,
    To what more can man aspire?
    Eyes that shine with love aglow,
    Is there more for man to know?

    Whether home be rich or poor,
    If contentment mark the door
    He who finds it good to live
    Has the best that life can give.

    This the end of mortal strife!
    Peace at night to sweeten life,
    Rest when mind and body tire,
    At contentment's ruddy fire.

    Rooms where merry songs are sung,
    Happy old and glorious young;
    These, if perfect peace be known,
    Both the rich and poor must own.

    A warm house and a ruddy fire,
    These the goals of all desire,
    These the dream of every man
    Since God spoke and life began.

  47. Ode on Solitude

    by Alexander Pope

    Happy the man, whose wish and care
    A few paternal acres bound,
    Content to breathe his native air,
    In his own ground.

    Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
    Whose flocks supply him with attire,
    Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
    In winter fire.

    Blest, who can unconcernedly find
    Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
    In health of body, peace of mind,
    Quiet by day,

    Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
    Together mixed; sweet recreation;
    And innocence, which most does please,
    With meditation.

    Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
    Thus unlamented let me die;
    Steal from the world, and not a stone
    Tell where I lie.

    And know this truth of the human breast,
    That, wanting little, is being blest.

    – Hannah Flagg Gould
    The Old Elm of Newbury
  48. The Happiest Heart

    by John Vance Cheney

    Who drives the horses of the sun
    Shall lord it but a day;
    Better the lowly deed were done,
    And kept the humble way.

    The rust will find the sword of fame,
    The dust will hide the crown;
    Ay, none shall nail so high his name
    Time will not tear it down.

    The happiest heart that ever beat
    Was in some quiet breast
    That found the common daylight sweet,
    And left to Heaven the rest.

  49. Two Pictures

    by Annie D. Green

    An old farm-house with meadows wide,
    And sweet with clover on each side;
    A bright-eyed boy, who looks from out
    The door with woodbine wreathed about
    And wishes his one thought all day:
    “O, if I could but fly away
    From this dull spot, the world to see,
    How happy, happy, happy,
    How happy I should be!”

    Amid the city’s constant din,
    A man who round the world has been,
    Who, mid the tumult and the throng,
    Is thinking, thinking all day long:
    “O, could I only tread once more
    The field-path to the farm-house door,
    The old, green meadow could I see,
    How happy, happy, happy,
    How happy I should be!”

  50. Contentment

    by John E. Everett

    "Brown and yellow, and yellow and brown,
    Are choicest colors for my crown."
    The sunflower said; "I am content,
    I want no other ornament."

    "Yellow and white," the daisy spake,
    "Were made, I think, for my own sake;
    I scarce would want to show my face
    If other tints should take their place."

    "Blue as heaven draped on high,
    Blue as bluest spot of sky—
    It is the shade I love the best,"
    The violet said, with hearty zest.

  51. Discontent

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    Herein is human nature most perverse:
    We spurn the gifts that lie about our door,
    Tread on them in our scorn, and madly nurse
    A gnawing hunger that still cries for more.

    And this for mortals all life's blessing mars,
    Turning to bitterness its offered sweet.
    We climb up dizzy crags to grasp the stars,
    While unplucked roses bloom about our feet.

    The stars are out of reach; the slippery steeps
    Prove treacherous footholds, and we trip and fall.
    Crushed are the roses; disappointment weeps
    O'er bleeding bruises: and that ends it all.

    We stretch our empty arms with longing sore,
    To clasp the mocking phantom of a dream:
    We pant with thirst while standing on a shore
    Kissed by the ripples of a living stream.

    From sweet, pure waters do we turn aside.
    Lured by false fountains in the desert gray:
    We chase a vision o'er expanses wide
    To find it grow more distant, day by day.

    Why do we so? Could we but learn to take,
    With thankful hearts, the blessings at our hand.
    To drink near springs, nor chase the phantom lake
    That swiftly vanishes along the sand!

    Suppose we gain our quest; suppose we taste—
    Aye, even drink our fill, with lips afire—
    Repentant leisure treads the heels of haste:
    In sad, remorseful tears ends fierce desire.

    Life is too short to waste in vain pursuit
    Of swift delight that through the finger slips,
    Or, caught and held, oft proves a Dead Sea fruit,
    That turns to bitter ashes on the lips.

  52. Pleasure and Delight

  53. On Pleasure

    by Eliza and Sarah Wolcott

    Adieu, ye winds, that softly
    Blew phantoms in the air,
    And raised your heads so lofty,
    To seek ye, was my care.

    But when I thought to gain you,
    Ye vanish'd from my sight,
    Ye faded like the rainhow,
    No more to give delight.

  54. Delight becomes pictorial

    by Emily Dickinson

    Delight becomes pictorial
    When viewed through pain, —
    More fair, because impossible
    That any gain.

    The mountain at a given distance
    In amber lies;
    Approached, the amber flits a little, —
    And that 's the skies!

  55. Living

    by Edgar A. Guest

    The miser thinks he's living when he's hoarding up his gold;
    The soldier calls it living when he's doing something bold;
    The sailor thinks it living to be tossed upon the sea,
    And upon this very subject no two men of us agree.
    But I hold to the opinion, as I walk my way along,
    That living's made of laughter and good-fellowship and song.

    I wouldn't call it living to be always seeking gold,
    To bank all the present gladness for the days when I'll be old.
    I wouldn't call it living to spend all my strength for fame,
    And forego the many pleasures which to-day are mine to claim.
    I wouldn't for the splendor of the world set out to roam,
    And forsake my laughing children and the peace I know at home.

    Oh, the thing that I call living isn't gold or fame at all!
    It's fellowship and sunshine, and it's roses by the wall.
    It's evenings glad with music and a hearth-fire that's ablaze,
    And the joys which come to mortals in a thousand different ways.
    It is laughter and contentment and the struggle for a goal;
    It is everything that's needful in the shaping of a soul.

  56. Gladness

  57. Gladness

    by Anna Hempstead Branch

    The world has brought not anything
    To make me glad to-day!
    The swallow had a broken wing,
    And after all my journeying
    There was no water in the spring,—
    My friend has said me nay.
    But yet somehow I needs must sing
    As on a luckier day.

    Dusk falls as gray as any tear,
    There is no hope in sight!
    But something in me seems so fair,
    That like a star I needs must wear
    A safety made of shining air
    Between me and the night.
    Such inner weavings do I wear
    All fashioned of delight!

    I need not for these robes of mine
    The loveliness of earth,
    But happenings remote and fine
    Like threads of dreams will blow and shine
    In gossamer and crystalline,
    And I was glad from birth.
    So even while my eyes repine,
    My heart is clothed in mirth.

    Our tears being now subsided,
    The flowers of hope will spring;
    In God, we have confided,
    And now our joys begin.

    – Eliza Wolcott
    Grief And Hope, Compared To The Rainbow After A Shower

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