1818
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Ode to Health. In imitation of Collins's Ode to Simplicity.

Literary Gazette, and Journal of the Belles Lettres (2 May 1818) 284-85.

Tyro


A Miltonic ode in twelve stanzas, signed "Tyro." The imagery is conventional to the topic, the poet's challenge being to fit it to William Collins's measure: "Enough, sweet Nymph, for me, | From care, from riches free, | To climb with thee some mountain far away, | There Nature's charms to scan, | Unseen, unheard by man, | And pay our welcome to the rising day." This sort of poetry had begun to go out of fashion some twenty years earlier, though descriptive and allegorical odes continued to appear throughout the romantic era.



O thou, first guest of Earth,
Whom Nature at one birth,
With Temperance, thy meek-ey'd sister, bore,
And bad thee range at will
Through Eden's groves, which still
Beneath thy smile eternal verdure wore;

Thou, who to gay parade
And boards with dainties spread,
Preferring, rustic Nymph, the woodland cell,
Delight'st, unheeded, there
On herbs and fruits to fare,
Oh deign, unfashion'd Health, with me to dwell.

By fam'd Olympia's plain,
Where heroes strove amain
To wrest the palm from Victory's oliv'd hand,
By whom thou stoodst, her maid,
In simple vest array'd,
And Exercise and Freedom join'd the band.

By all those green retreats,
Thine and the Muses' seats,
Which erst in early days thy footsteps charm'd,
What time the Samian Sage
Reform'd the admiring age,
And list'ning states to kindred virtues warm'd.

By all those pleasures known
To thee, blest Nymph, alone,
Pure as thou tasted as the fount began,
Ere Luxury had dyed,
With streams from Vice supplied,
The tide that ever since alloy'd has ran.

O let me, Health, be blest
With thee my constant guest;
And Temperance the plain repast prepare;
Though Sol his warm rays bring
To aid the budding Spring,
Vain are his rays without thy pow'r is there.

With costly gifts thee too
The Lordling proud would woo,
Panting for joys that Lux'ry can't afford,
And court thee by his side
To sit an honour'd bride,
Though far he chase thy sister from his board.

But other scenes than these
Thy temperate wishes please,
Or sunny hill, or lawn, or shady grove;
With maids and shepherds found,
Dancing in frolic round,
Or list'ning to the accents soft of Love.

Yet still with virgin care
Dost thou deny his prayer,
While pants thy bosom with averted charms,
Till Virtue, maiden coy,
Acknowledges the boy,
And bids thee take him to thy raptur'd arms.

Let others madly dare
To ascend ambition's car;
For honours or for wealth let others call,
Wealth impotently great
Appears in idle state,
Unless thy smile illume the banner'd hall.

Enough, sweet Nymph, for me,
From care, from riches free,
To climb with thee some mountain far away,
There Nature's charms to scan,
Unseen, unheard by man,
And pay our welcome to the rising day.

While as Aurora's beam,
That aye in many a stream
Diverging, gradual steals o'er Nature's works,
Reflection soft may wind
Through all the tracts of mind,
Discov'ring where, conceal'd, Idea lurks.

[pp. 284-85]