1746
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode III. To Health. Written on a Recovery from the Small-Pox.

Odes on Various Subjects. By Joseph Warton, B.A. of Oriel College, Oxon.

Rev. Joseph Warton


An allegorical ode in the Horatian manner, in seven irregular Spenserians (ababcc, octosyllabics). Only the last has the Spenserian alexandrine, no doubt to mark its elevated subject: "Where MARO and MUSAEUS sit | List'ning to MILTON's loftier song, | With sacred silent wonder smit; | While, monarch of the tuneful throng, | Homer in rapture throws his trumpet down, | And to the Briton gives his amaranthine crown."

Alexander Chalmers: "In 1747, according to Mr. Wooll's account, he had published a volume of odes, in conjunction with Collins, but on consulting the literary registers of the time, it appears that each published a volume of poems in 1746, and in the same month. It cannot now be ascertained what degree of fame accrued to our author from this volume, but in the preface we find him avowing those sentiments on the nature of genuine poetry which he expanded more at large afterwards, and which were the foundation of what has since been termed 'the school of the Wartons'" Works of the English Poets (1810) 18:146.

William Lyon Phelps: "The Ode to Health, written on his recovery from the small-pox, is noteworthy for the opinion expressed of Milton in the last stanza.... Homer, and especially Virgil, doing homage to Milton would certainly have been a sacrilegious thought to Augustan minds" Beginnings of the English Romantic Movement (1893) 91-92.

Raymond Dexter Havens: "Seven of his eighteen odes are modelled on Allegro or Penseroso. The most Miltonic is the tetrameter Ode to Fancy ... but the Ode to Health, though influenced in only four of the seven stanzas, shows a more interesting adaptation of the Miltonic formula: 'O Whether with laborious clowns | In meads and woods thou lov'st to dwell....'" The Influence of Milton (1922) 462.



O whether with laborious clowns
In meads and woods thou lov'st to dwell,
In noisy merchant-crouded towns,
Or in the temperate Brachman's cell;
Who from the meads of Ganges' fruitful flood,
Wet with sweet dews collects his flowery food;

In Bath or in Montpellier's plains,
Or rich Bermudas' balmy isle,
Or the cold North, whose fur-clad swains
Ne'er saw the purple Autumn smile,
Who over alps of snow, and desarts drear,
By twinkling star-light drive the flying deer;

O lovely queen of mirth and ease,
Whom absent, beauty, banquets, wine,
Wit, music, pomp, nor science please,
And kings on ivory couches pine,
Nature's kind nurse, to whom by gracious heav'n
To sooth the pangs of toilsome life 'tis giv'n;

To aid a languid wretch repair,
Let pale-ey'd Grief thy presence fly,
The restless demon gloomy Care,
And meagre Melancholy die;
Drive to some lonely rock the giant Pain,
And bind him howling with a triple chain!

O come, restore my aking sight,
Yet let me not on LAURA gaze,
Soon must I quit that dear delight,
O'erpower'd by Beauty's piercing rays;
Support my feeble feet, and largely shed
Thy oil of gladness on my fainting head:

How nearly had my spirit past,
Till stopt by METCALF's skilful hand,
To Death's dark regions wide and wast,
And the black river's mournful strand;
Or to those vales of joy, and meadows blest,
Where sages, heroes, patriots, poets rest;

Where MARO and MUSAEUS sit
List'ning to MILTON's loftier song,
With sacred silent wonder smit;
While, monarch of the tuneful throng,
Homer in rapture throws his trumpet down,
And to the Briton gives his amaranthine crown.

[pp. 16-18]