1786
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Stanzas, written in a fit of the Gout.

Morning Post and Daily Advertiser (25 December 1786).

Oblivion


A burlesque ode in four irregular Spenserians (ababcC) signed "Oblivion, Otranto Castle, Dec. 19, 1786." The poem opens with the L'Allegro formula found in more than one Ode to Health, though the sufferer, somewhat endearingly, forgoes the invocation to Hygeia. Instead of calling upon the lenient Sisters ("Fortitude, Temperance, Soberness, and Chasity" — note) the poet returns to his vice: "But what is life, without love or wine, | Without the orgies of the mystic bowl? | Let moralists their mental joys define, | But sweeter far the midnight flow of soul."

Author's note: "Sir Bevill Granvil, who commanded the Royal forces against a formidable army of the Parliament; but, though opposed by superior strength, and with the disadvantage of fighting up hill, he and his smaller army did not retreat a step, till Sir Bevill fell on the summit of Landsdown Hill, as the monument there to this day commemortes."



Hence, loathed Gout! most dreaded fiend to Ease,
When born, or of what lineage, unknown;
Vain all research to quell the stern disease,
Physic in trial a defeat must own;
Med'cine cannot the fev'rish torrent stem,
Nor at the secret source its subtilty o'erwhelm.

Whether it sprang from high Patrician race,
By season'd viands, and distemper'd cates,
When at nocturnal feasts, (O dire disgrace!)
To please the taste, were lavish'd whole estates;
Or from Lycurgus' meagre fare it came,
When he, by wholesome laws, advanc'd the Spartan fame:

Too deep the myst'ry for my Muse to tell.
To check its rage, and mitigate the pain,
She knows, alas! by sad experience, well,
And brings the lenient Sisters in her train;
But chief is She, who bids us ills endure,
The other three by time may form a partial cure.

But what is life, without love or wine,
Without the orgies of the mystic bowl?
Let moralists their mental joys define,
But sweeter far the midnight flow of soul.
Gout! then attack — I'll brave thy greatest ill,
And fall, like valiant BEVILL, on the topmost hill.

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