Late one night, I shared a bottle of Polish vodka with a friend.
We talked about matters of great importance; life, meaning, and happiness — as one might do while getting experimentally intoxicated after a hard day’s work in the PR industry.
The next day, my friend sent me this email:
“My head hurts, but our conversation yesterday reminded me of this poem of Henry Howard,” he wrote. “I think you might like it.”
It turned out to become one of my favourite poems.
“My friend, the things that do attain
The happy life be these, I find:
The riches left, not got with pain,
The fruitful ground; the quiet mind;
The equal friend; no grudge, no strife;
No charge of rule nor governance;
Without disease the healthy life;
The household of continuance;
The mean diet, no dainty fare;
True wisdom joined with simpleness;
The night discharged of all care,
Where wine the wit may not oppress;
The faithful wife, without debate;
Such sleeps as may beguile the night:
Content thyself with thine estate,
Neither wish death, nor fear his might.”
The poem was partially used in this episode of The Tudors (and read very well):
Happiness by way of the quiet mind, as it stands, might just be the most ambitious of quests; so elusive and difficult to attain.
Such a sensible path to wander — especially for those of us who subscribe to a stoic philosophy of life.