The poem "The means to attain a happy life."  Which are they or what does the poet want to show us?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Henry Howard's poem is actually a translation of one of the Roman poet Martial's Epigrams. 

The original poem was written roughly 1500 years before Howard translated it. Howard's translation shows that the elements of a happy life are timeless and universal. They include the following: "riches" (money, income) obtained without pain, an untroubled ("quiet") mind, a friend you can accept as an equal, a peaceful life without quarreling, a calm political situation in your country, good health, a well-established family ("the household of continuance"), a healthy diet  ("no delicate fare"), wisdom joined with simplicity, a lack of drunkenness, a faithful wife, the ability to sleep peacefully at night, and neither a wish for nor a fear of death.

Howard was a wealthy and powerful man. He was an earl who was the cousin of Anne Boleyn. Boleyn became King Henry VIII's second wife. She also plunged her relatives into turmoil when she was executed (unfairly) for adultery. Howard is trying to show us that the happy life is rooted in simplicity and quietness rather than what wealth and status bring. Anyone above the poverty level could lead such a happy life: you would not need to be an earl. 

Ironically, Howard's life was filled with carousing, strife, political intrigues swirling around his cousin Anne, and time in prison. Translating this poem might have had a special meaning for him as he contemplated what unhappiness his privileged life had brought him. He had learned through experience to value a peaceful existence.

lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the above mentioned poem, there is a list of things that are the means for attaining a happy life. Inheritance that is pain free. Good health being another one. Following a healthy diet is an attainable means to happiness. Moderation when consuming wine will help one with health issues.

A faithful spouse is one means of attaining a happy life. Having good friends is equal to having a happy life. Not wishing for death yet not fearing his might is a means to attaining a happy life.

Ironically, these things mentioned above are comprehensibly attainable. Following a healthy diet will lead to happiness. It is a matter of making up one's mind to follow a healthy diet.

Being a true friend will ensure genuine friendship. Being faithful can increase a spouse's faithfulness.

Monitoring one's wine intake will help one attain a happy life. Moderation is the key. This is also a choice one makes.

Although death is inevitable, there is no need to wish for his early arrival. Also, there is no need to fear death. It can be a welcome sight to one who has lived a long, long life. Often, longevity brings about inevitable weariness.

Moderation is the key to life. Wine in moderation is healthy. It will not oppress the mind when consumed in moderation.

This poem suggests a balanced life is the key to attaining a happy life. The poet suggests that there are means to attaining a happy life. Obviously, the poet knows; otherwise, he couldn't write about it with the authority he does. His ideas are reasonable.

joelbrendon3 | Student

He also talks about true wisdom ,humbleness, peacefulmind,faithfulwife ...etc.. 


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