Asked in Poetry
What are the characteristics of a happy life as described in the poem Solitude by Alexander Pope?
September 13, 2011 8:03PM
Ode On Solitude (or The Quiet Life) - A Poem By Alexander Pope,
Alexander Pope once said:' The proper study of mankind is man'. To him belongs the greatest number of quotations in the English language. Man was the fittest subject for his poetry. In an imaginative treatment, he illuminates the knowledge about man in relation to individuals, society and the Universe. Born a catholic in the protestant England, he was forbidden to live in London city and was liable for a double taxation. Besides, he was suffering from a series of diseases. To combat these handicaps, he possessed more than the courage of a lion. The Rape Of The Lock, Essay On Man, Essay On Criticism and The Temple Of Fame are a few of his major poems. The Quiet Life is an alternative title for the poem Ode On Solitude, which is justified. In this poem Pope is describing the characteristics of a happy life, which are satisfaction, self-sufficiency and piety.
The happy man is satisfied with what he is having at present. He is not interested in increasing his landed properties. His wish and care are bound within the few acres of land given to him by his ancestors. He also wishes not to go abroad to France or anywhere else to make money or to enjoy, as others in his times did. He is content to breath his native air in his own ground. Thus satisfaction is characteristic of a happy life.
The happy man would be self sufficient also. His herds would supply him with milk and his flocks of black sheep with wool for his attire. He would be winning his bread by cultivating his fields. And he would have planted enough number of trees in his homestead which would yield him a cool shade in the Summer and enough firewood to burn in the Winter. Thus self sufficiency is another characteristic of a happy life.
If somebody can watch without anxiety the passing of time, then he is a blessed person indeed. Hours, days and years slide soft away as if a sledge is sliding over the snow. Time progresses in a straight line and no point in it will ever be repeated. The feelings and passions attached to a particular moment can never be enjoyed anymore. Right actions of the tiny moments constitutes what is happiness in life. Therefore the happy man can unconcernedly observe the passing of time, in health of body and peace of mind. It is the perfect attitude to Time.
The nights of the happy man would be spent on sleeping sound. His day time would be devoted to a recreation-like studying. It must be remembered here that not everyone are blessed with successful book publishing and heavy royalties like the poet. Study and ease together mixed is a sweet recreation indeed. A 30% book reading, 10% life experience and the rest 60% travel makes anyone's life perfect. The happy man's innocence, perfection and his meditative traits makes him pleasing to the world. Thus piety, or unchanging belief, also is characteristic of a happy life.
Like a truly happy man, the poet wishes to live unseen and unknown and die unlamented. He wishes to withdraw stealthily from this world and pleads that not a stone be placed over his grave to tell where he lies. The happy poet is here contemplating Solitude.