"My country is the World. My Religion is to do Good."

Contentment, A Poem

Thomas Paine

Paine wrote occasional verse. Only a few poems survive; many of his writings, and documents left at his death in the care of friends were destroyed in a fire. The following poem-letter was inscribed, in 1796, to the wife of Paine's friend, Joel Barlow, then living in Paris, as was Paine.


O could we always live and love,
And always be sincere,
I would not wish for heaven above,
My heaven would be here.
Though many countries I have seen,
And more may chance to see,
My Little Corner of the World
Is half the world to me;
The other half, as you may guess,
America contains;
And thus, between them, I possess
The whole world for my pains.
I'm then contented with my lot,
I can no happier be;
For neither world I'm sure has got
So rich a man as me.
Then send no fiery chariot down
To take me off from hence,
But leave me on my heavenly ground --
This prayer is common-sense.
Let others choose another plan,
I mean no fault to find;
The true theology of man
Is happiness of mind.

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