An irregular ODE after SICKNESS,
1 TOO long a stranger to repose,
2 At length from Pain's abhorred couch I rose,
3 And wander'd forth alone;
4 To court once more the balmy breeze,
5 And catch the verdure of the trees,
6 Ere yet their charms were flown.
7 'Twas from a bank with pansies gay
8 I hail'd once more the chearful day,
9 The sun's forgotten beams:
10 O sun! how pleasing were thy rays,
11 Reflected from the polish'd face
12 Of yon refulgent streams!
13 Rais'd by the scene my feeble tongue
14 Essay'd again the sweets of song:
15 And thus in feeble strains and slow,
16 The loitering numbers 'gan to flow.
17 "Come, gentle air! my languid limbs restore,
18 "And bid me welcome from the Stygian shore:
19 "For sure I heard the tender sighs,
20 "I seem'd to join the plaintive cries
21 "Of hapless youths, who thro' the myrtle grove
22 "Bewail for ever their unfinish'd love:
23 "To that unjoyous clime,
24 "Torn from the sight of these etherial skies;
25 "Debarr'd the lustre of their Delia's eyes;
26 "And banish'd in their prime.
27 "Come, gentle Air! and while the thickets bloom,
28 "Convey the jasmin's breath divine,
29 "Convey the woodbine's rich perfume,
30 "Nor spare the sweet-leaft eglantine.
31 "And may'st thou shun the rugged storm
32 "Till Health her wonted charms explain,
33 "With rural pleasure in her train,
34 "To greet me in her fairest form.
35 "While from this lofty mount I view
36 "The sons of earth, the vulgar crew,
37 "Anxious for futile gains beneath me stray,
38 "And seek with erring step Contentment's obvious way.
39 "Come, gentle Air! and thou celestial Muse,
40 "Thy genial flame infuse;
41 "Enough to lend a pensive bosom aid,
42 "And gild Retirement's gloomy shade;[Page 30]
43 "Enough to rear such rustic lays
44 "As foes may slight, but partial friends will praise. "
45 The gentle Air allow'd my claim;
46 And, more to chear my drooping frame,
47 She mix'd the balm of op'ning flowers;
48 Such as the bee, with chymic powers,
49 From Hybla's fragrant hill inhales,
50 Or scent Sabea's blooming vales.
51 But ah! the Nymphs that heal the pensive mind,
52 By prescripts more refin'd,
53 Neglect their votary's anxious moan:
54 Oh, how should They relieve? — the Muses all were flown.
55 By flowery plain, or woodland shades,
56 I fondly sought the charming maids;
57 By woodland shades, or flow'ry plain,
58 I sought them, faithless maids! in vain!
59 When lo! in happier hour,
60 I leave behind my native mead,
61 To range where zeal and friendship lead,
62 To visit *****'s honor'd bower.
63 Ah foolish man! to seek the tuneful maids
64 On other plains, or near less verdant shades;
65 Scarce have my footsteps press'd the favor'd ground,
66 When sounds etherial strike my ear;
67 At once celestial forms appear;
68 My fugitives are found![Page 31]
69 The Muses here attune their lyres,
70 Ah partial! with unwonted fires;
71 Here, hand in hand, with careless mien,
72 The sportive Graces trip the green.
73 But whilst I wander'd o'er a scene so fair,
74 Too well at one survey I trace,
75 How every Muse, and every Grace,
76 Had long employ'd their care.
77 Lurks not a stone enrich'd with lively stain,
78 Blooms not a flower amid the vernal store,
79 Falls not a plume on India's distant plain,
80 Glows not a shell on Adria's rocky shore,
81 But torn methought from native lands or seas,
82 From their arrangement, gain fresh pow'r to please.
83 And some had bent the wildering maze,
84 Bedeckt with every shrub that blows;
85 And some entwin'd the willing sprays,
86 To shield th' illustrious Dame's repose:
87 Others had grac'd the sprightly dome,
88 And taught the portrait where to glow;
89 Others arrang'd the curious tome;
90 Or 'mid the decorated space,
91 Assign'd the laurel'd bust a place,
92 And given to learning all the pomp of show,
93 And now from every task withdrawn,
94 They met and frisk'd it o'er the lawn.
95 Ah! woe is me, said I;
96 And ***'s hilly circuit heard me cry,
97 Have I for this, with labour strove,
98 And lavish'd all my little store
99 To fence for you my shady grove,
100 And scollop every winding shore;
101 And fringe with every purple rose,
102 The saphire stream that down my valley flows?
103 Ah! lovely treacherous maids!
104 To quit unseen my votive shades,
105 When pale disease, and torturing pain
106 Had torn me from the breezy plain,
107 And to a restless couch confin'd,
108 Who ne'er your wonted tasks declin'd.
109 She needs not your officious aid
110 To swell the song, or plan the shade;
111 By genuine Fancy fir'd,
112 Her native Genius guides her hand,
113 And while she marks the sage command,
114 More lovely scenes her skill shall raise,
115 Her lyre resound with nobler lays
116 Than ever you inspir'd.
117 Thus I my rage and grief display;
118 But vainly blame, and vainly mourn,
119 Nor will a Grace or Muse return
120 Till LUXBOROUGH lead the way.
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About this text
Title (in Source Edition): An irregular ODE after SICKNESS, 1749.
Author: William Shenstone
Themes: health; nature
References: DMI 27227
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