Ode to Health. Written at Buxton in Derbyshire. 1765.


Francis Noel Clarke Mundy

An imitation of L'Allegro in which Francis Noel Clarke Mundy praises the powers of Health, catalogues the out-of-doors place where the goddess is to be found, and concludes with a piece of gallantry addressed to the poet's lover: "Thou on my Laura's lips hast spread | The peach's blush, the rose's red; | With quick'ning life thy touch supplies | The polish'd lustre of her eyes. | O ever make thy dwelling there, | And guard from harm my favourite fair!" Mundy's poems were published anonymously.

Critical Review: "We have read these poems with uncommon pleasure; and are surprized that the author should not have ventured to prefix his name to pieces, which might add fresh laurels to a character already known and established in the poetical republic. We do not remember to have seen so striking an instance of the sublime, the tender, and the humorous, united in the same genius.... We are in hopes the author will favour us with his name in a second edition of these poems, which, we presume, the taste of the public will speedily demand. So much merit, however, cannot be long concealed; which, in proportion as it claims our approbation, awakens our curiosity" 27 (January 1769) 55-67.

Samuel Egerton Brydges: "The ingenious author of that beautiful descriptive poem, entitled Needwood Forest" Censura Literaria 6 (1808) 204.

O Rosy Health, heart-easy Maid,
In garments light thy limbs array'd,
In smiles thy jocund features drest,
Of Heav'ns best blessings thou the best;
Bright Goddess ever fair and young,
To thee my votive lays belong!
For thou hast fill'd each languid vein
With vigour, life, and strength again,
When pale, enervate, wan, and weak,
Despair and Sickness seiz'd my check.

O cou'd my voice such numbers raise
Thee and thy healing founts to praise,
As might with themes so high agree,
Praise, worthy them, and worthy thee!
O nymph admit me of thy train,
With thee to range the breezy plain;
And fresh and strong my limbs to lave
Beneath thy nerve-restoring wave.
With thee to rouze the slumbering morn
With op'ning hound and cheering horn,
With shouts that shake each wood and hill,
While mocking Echo takes her fill.
O lover of the daisied lawn!
'Tis thine, at earliest peep of dawn
The ranging forrester to greet,
Or the blythe lass whose tripping feet,
All as the sings beneath her pail,
Imprint long traces o'er the vale.
Nor seekest thou the proud resorts
Of cities and licentious courts,
Where Sloth and Gluttony abide,
With bloated Surfeit by their side;
But humbly scornest not to dwell
With Temp'rance in the rural cell;
To watch the sheep-boy at his stand,
Or ploughman on the furrow'd land.
These climates cold, these barren plains,
Where rude, uncultur'd Nature reigns,
Better thy hardy Manners please
Than bow'rs of Luxury and Ease.
And oft' you trip these hills among
With Exercise, a sportsman young,
Who starting at the call of day
Cuffs drowsy Indolence away,
And climbs with many a sturdy stride
The mossy Mountain's quivering side.
Nor fleeting mist, nor sullen storm,
Nor blast, nor whirlwind can deform
The careless scene when thou art there,
With Cheerfulness thy daughter fair.
From thee, bright Health, all blessings spring,
Hither thy blooming Children bring,
Light-hearted Mirth and Sport, and Joy,
And young-ey'd Love thy darling boy.
'Tis thou hast pour'd o'er Beauty's face
Its artless bloom, its native grace;
Thou on my Laura's lips hast spread
The peach's blush, the rose's red;
With quick'ning life thy touch supplies
The polish'd lustre of her eyes.
O ever make thy dwelling there,
And guard from harm my favorite Fair!
O let no blighting grief come nigh;
And chace away each hurtful sigh,
Disease with sickly yellow spread,
And Pain that holds the drooping head!
There as her beauties you defend,
Oft' may her eye in kindness bend
(So doubly bounteous wilt thou prove)
On me who live but in her Love.

[pp. 77-80]