The most remarkable thing about this poem, ‘Ode on Solitude’, is that Alexander Pope (1688-1744) wrote it when he was just 12 years old! A paean to the simple life and a world of peace and quiet, ‘Ode on Solitude’ was an extraordinarily precocious poem by a poet who would go on to define the poetic tastes of the first half of the eighteenth century with longer works such as The Rape of the Lock and The Dunciad. This poem was written just as that century was dawning, in 1700.
Ode on Solitude
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,
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.
If you enjoyed ‘Ode on Solitude’, you can discover more about the fascinating life of Alexander Pope here.