1774
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hymn to Health.

Poems, chiefly Rural.

William Richardson


An allegorical-descriptive ode in the Miltonic manner. If the allegorical passages are concerned with Health, the descriptive passages seem more concerned with Spring. The "I know thee" formula may have been adapted from William Collins: "O Health, I know thy blue-bright eye, | Thy dewy lip, thy rosy dye, | The dimpled cheek, thy lively air | That wins a smile from pining care" p. 28.



O by the gentle gales that blow
Refreshing from the mountain's brow,
By the vermeil bloom of morn,
By the dew-drop on the thorn,
By the sky-lark's matin lay,
By the flowers that blooming May
Sprinkles on the meads and hills,
By the brooks and fuming rills,
Come, smiling Health, and deign to be
Our queen of rural sports and glee.
What sudden radiance gilds the skies!
What warblings from the groves arise!
A breeze more odiferous blows!
The stream more musically flows!
A brighter smile the valley wears!
And lo! the lovely queen appears.
O Health, I know thy blue-bright eye,
Thy dewy lip, thy rosy dye,
The dimpled cheek, thy lively air
That wins a smile from pining care.
Soft-pinioned gales around thee breathe,
Perfuming dews thy tresses bathe,
The zone of Venus girds thy waist,
The young Loves flutter round thy breast,
And on thy path the rose-winged Hours
Scatter their variegated flowers.
See! the nymphs and every swain
Mingle in thy festive train,
With roguish winks, and winning smiles,
And many a tale, devised with care,
To win the bashful maiden's ear;
And sweetly soothing blandishment,
And the coy air of half consent;
And Joy, and rose-complexioned Laughter
With tottering footstep following after.
Goddess ever blyth and fair,
Ever mild and debonair,
Stay with us, and deign to be
Our queen of rural mirth and glee.

[pp. 28-29]