1759
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Health.

Gentleman's Magazine 29 (July 1759) 334.

G. B.


An allegorical ode, signed "G. B." contrasting Health with its opposite: "At thy appearance black Despair | With Pain, stalks off, a sullen pair, | Pale Fear of Melancholy bred, | Sickness that hangs the drooping head, | Slowly retreat." The poem takes a rather moral tone, advocating Cicero and Shaftesbury as appropriate remedies to the violence of pain.



Come rosy health, celestial maid,
Why this delay to yield me aid?
Swift from the rural cell advance,
The rural cell of temperance,
For well I trow in such a cell,
And not in courts thou lov'st to dwell.
Fair source whence all our pleasures sprung,
Come rosy health, and with thee bring
The gallant ever chearful crew,
Of youthful joys, thy offspring true.

At thy appearance black Despair
With Pain, stalks off, a sullen pair,
Pale Fear of Melancholy bred,
Sickness that hangs the drooping head,
Slowly retreat; in Chloe's face
Revives the long-forgotten grace:
The bloom of beauty on thee waits,
Which Art but faintly imitates.

If thou art absent, who can say,
How irksome moves the tedious day!
What can enable man to bear
So long a trial, so severe?
Patience alone can give relief,
Patience along can smile at grief,
Patience can comfort in the hour,
When ev'ry limb has lost its pow'r,
When, to take up the cumb'rous word,
The tongue can scarce the strength afford.
Tully of old taught how the wise
The violence of the pain despise.
Happy, who learns from that fair page,
How weak, how impotent, its rage!
Happy who learns from Shaftesbury,
That Vice alone is misery.

If thee, fair Health, but deign to come,
The active limbs their use resume,
The tongue, in that propitious hour,
Hap'ly regains its former pow'r.
The soul at thy return revives,
And all the man within us lives.
From dreary couch of Sickness free,
We taste the sweets of Liberty.

[p. 334]