1791
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Health.

Morning Post and Daily Advertiser (2 September 1791).

Thomas Adney


A fulsome imitation of Milton's L'Allegro, more musical than meaningful perhaps. The poem consists largely of a catalogue of rural pleasures, including an episode fashionably gothic. I have not identified Thomas Adney, a frequent contributor to the European Magazine at this time.

Roy Benjamin Clark: "If by the Della Cruscans are meant only those who, under the leadership of Della Crusca and Anna Matilda, contributed their verse to the World and the Oracle, they had almost ceased writing before Gifford's satire [the Baviad] appeared. If the term is to be used in the larger sense of all those who, choosing a pseudonym, contributed more or less absurd verse to the newspapers and popular magazines, the satire had little effect on them" William Gifford (1930) 61.



Hence! Paly Sickness haste!
Let Pestilence its horrors wing away
Far from the roseate day,
O'er sterile plains and solitary waste!
Let ATROPHY no more
With yellow visage boast her noxious reign,
Nor sad tormenting pain,
Nor dread MARASMUS, with his wither'd cheek,
Sure loit'ring vengeance wreak,
But all from hence retreat, to trace some sickly shore!

HEALTH, to thee my lyre I string,
Mistress of the rosy ring!
Straight a floral wreath prepare,
For the Goddess blithe and fair!
See the featly-footed Queen
Sporting on the daisied green;
She, whose blushing cheeks disclose
All the beauties of the rose.
Say, Queen, if in some pathless dell
Or pearly grot thou'rt wont to dwell,
Near where the stream pellucid flows
In gentle tinklings as it goes;
Where shady trees extend their arms,
And Nature, drest in all her charms,
Rose-lipp'd Goddess, ever reigns
Smiling o'er the fertile plains?
Say, when morning 'gins to dawn,
Weeping o'er the primrose lawn;
When AURORA ever bright
Unbars the golden gates of light,
And as a bride-maid leads the day
Deck'd in saffron vesture gay;
When the lark with mounting wings
His much-lov'd early ditty sings;
When the cock with clarion shrill
Wakes alert each distant hill,
Do'st thou the jasmine alcove seek,
Diffusing o'er thy beauteous cheek
Every bright transcendent hue
That e'er the spring's rich garden knew?
Or on the verdant carpet spread
A fillet for thy florid head,
Compos'd of ev'ry scented flow'r
That e'er receiv'd the spangled show'r;
Carnations sweet and lilies fair,
Moss roses cull'd with nicest care,
With vi'lets, amaranth, and pink,
And daff'dil from the riv'let's brink?
Or dost thou, Queen, with pleasure lave
Thy iv'ry form in silver wave,
While the Naiads chaunt the song,
"Mirth and joy to thee belong,"
And hail thee Goddess of the plain,
Sister of the agile train,
Ever comely, ever gay,
Mistress of the roundelay!
Oh! Let me trace thee to the grove
Where turtles coo their themes of love;
Where breathes the soft refrig'rant breeze
O'er the glade and through the trees;
Where sweet the mellow pipe is heard,
And every joyous warb'ling bird
Heedless hops from bough to bough,
While the peasant drives the plough,
Whistling as the glebe he breaks,
As his morning toil he takes;
Where beneath the umbrose oak
Which never felt the woodman's stroke,
Nymphs resort to greet their swains,
Sigh their loves and tell their pains.
There I'd join the light-heel'd throng
Who briskly trip the meads along:
MIRTH, with rosy-blooming face,
Shall be the first to lead the chase;
And loose-rob'd FANCY, queen of pleasure,
Shall chaunt her most admired measure,
Chaunt with never-ceasing glee
Strains of pure festivity.
BACCHUS shall his purple vine
Round the myrtle-tree entwine;
And VENUS too, with lovely mien,
Ever sportive, yet serene,
Shall o'er the meads enraptur'd rove;
While the playful God of Love,
Rose-cheek'd Cherub, leads the way,
Blithsome as the blushing day;
While sober TEMP'RANCE chaste and mild
Sweetly carols wood-notes wild,
In russet garment, staid and free,
Chaunting songs of jollity!

HEALTH, to thee my lyre I string,
To thee my votive off'ring bring!
But where, Enchantress, dost thou dwell?
Secluded in some lonely cell,
Where from rural scenes remote
Is heard the hooting screetch-owl's note?
Or on some promontory's height
Impervious to the traveller's sight,
'Midst endless frosts and drifting snows,
Where Eurus stern impetuous blows?
Or dost thou seek the buxom vale,
Or in the spicy bow'r regale,
Or on beds of roses play,
List'ning to the love-fraught lay?
Oh! Let me to thy mansion speed
O'er the green enamell'd mead;
To some far cave by moss o'ergrown,
Emboss'd with many a lustrous stone;
Where the ivy crept around
The rugged sides by Time imbrown'd;
Far imbower'd in the glen,
Where the red-breast and the wren
Build their little nests, and sing
Carols to the jocund Spring,
While the Zephyr's silken sail
Fans the lillies of the vale:
There retired, let me be
With the courteous Muse and thee;
Hold dalliance with the Queen of Song,
Whose aid inspires the vocal throng.
Gladly then I'd strike the wire,
Sing of bliss and chaste desire,
Weave the wreath to bind my hair,
And drink the fragrance of the air.
So should my vagrant fancy stray,
Amidst the honey'd sweets of May,
Thro' waving woods and gay alcove,
Where music breathes the sound of love.
Oft let me seek at early dawn,
With mind compos'd, the dewy lawn;
Hear the blackbird in the bush,
And the sweetly thrilling thrush:
Let every prospect glad my sight
While I scale the steep rock's height,
Whose brow o'erhangs the breaking wave
Where blue Tritons love to lave,
Where Nereids from their coral cells
Sound aloud their twisted shells.
And when Eve, with drowsy eye,
Robes in grey the azure sky,
Let me roam with footsteps slow,
While the worm, with sheeny glow,
Illumes the torn-entangled hedge,
Peering through the side-way sedge,
Let me in the lonely hour
Seek some tott'ring ivy'd tow'r,
Or walk some abbey's aisles among,
"Where shiv'ring ghosts from charnels throng;"
Where the dark-mop'd owl complains,
While the bat close skims the plains,
With his leathern wings outspread,
As the Moon begins to shed
Her silv'ry lustre o'er the grove,
Where Contemplation joys to rove,
As slow he winds his sober pace,
With steady step and museful face.
Let me hasten to the note
Of the wailing songster's throat,
Who, sadly pining on her thorn,
Thrills in plaintive cadence, lorn,
To her idol flow'r, the Rose,
Which beneath mellifluous blows.
So long the forest's charms I'd sing,
Of leafy trees and endless spring;
Of flow'rets of enliv'ning dye,
The teeming Earth's embroidery;
Of whistling birds, of crystal fountains,
Rugged rocks and cloud-capt mountains;
But more of her, whose florid face,
Buxom air, and winning grace,
Claims the song and sounding lyre,
And the Poet's fervent fire;
All the eloquence we know;—
For want of HEALTH, what's life below?
Doom'd in a wretched state to mourn,
Bereft of peace, with mind forlorn,
We linger — 'till the winged dart
Vindictive strikes us to the heart,
And meet the turf-bound bed of clay,
Of mortals' woes the sure allay!
Then HEATH, enthusiastic maid,
O grant for once thy balmy aid,
And o'er my cheeks diffuse the flush,
The vermeil glow and living blush;
So long may'st thou my breast inspire,
Goddess of supreme desire!
And FANCY, and the Muse benign,
Teach me to weave the lofty rhyme!
Nor will I e'er, with lips prophane,
Insult the Muse with obscene strain,
But humbly wake the silver string,
Her sacred influence to sing.
And when Old Age, with wrinkled face,
Shall bid me quit Youth's gamesome chace,
May I reflect on pleasures past,
Nor grieve because they fled so fast!
And when the grisly tyrant, Death,
Demands, alas! my fleeting breath,
May bright-ey'd HOPE, with soothing hand,
Point to the all-mysterious land,
And waft my soul to realms above,
Where all is calmness, truth, and love!
But while on lowly Earth I be,
HEALTH, let me ever live with thee!

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