Ignorance is bliss

Posted by ESC on May 16, 2003

In Reply to: Ignorance is bliss posted by R. Berg on May 16, 2003

: : What exactly does the phrase "Ignorance is bliss" mean? I just can't seem to find this out anywhere...Thanks!

: It means you're happier not knowing some particular thing. You feel better not getting the bad news.

Thomas Gray
Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College

".Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise."

English poet Gray wrote the poem in 1742 and "unintentionally added a proverb to the language. It has been observed that Gray didn't mean it is better to be ignorant than wise at all times, the popular usage given to his words, for he makes an important qualification by using the word where. But a reading of the whole poem shows that he did mean it is better for man to be blissfully ignorant of his fate." From Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).