An Irregular Ode, After Sickness
-Melius, bunny venerit ipsa, canemus.
His wish'd-for presence will improve the song.
Too long a stranger to repose,
At length from Pain's abhorred couch I rose,
And wander'd forth alone,
To court once more the balmy breeze,
And catch the verdure of the trees,
Ere yet their charms were flown.
'Twas from a bank with pansies gay,
I hail'd once more the cheerful day,
The sun's forgotten beams
O Sun! how pleasing were thy rays,
Reflected from the polish'd face
Of yon refulgent streams!
Raised by the scene, my feeble tongue
Essay'd again the sweets of song:
And thus, in feeble strains and slow,
The loitering numbers 'gan to flow.
'Come, gentle Air! my languid limbs restore,
And bid me welcome from the Stygian shore;
For sure I heard the tender sighs,
I seem'd to join the plaintive cries,
Of hapless youths who through the myrtle grove
Bewail for ever their unfinish'd love;
To that unjoyous clime,
Torn from the sight of these ethereal skies;
Debarr'd the lustre of their Delia's eyes,
And banish'd in their prime.
'Come, gentle Air! and, while the thickets bloom,
Convey the jasmine's breath divine;
Convey the woodbine's rich perfume,
Nor spare the sweet-leaf'd eglantine
And mayst thou shun the rugged storm,
Till Health her wonted charms explain,
With Rural Pleasure in her train,
To greet me in her fairest form
While from this lofty mount I view
The Sons of earth, the vulgar crew,
Anxious for futile gains, beneath me stray,
And seek with erring step Contentment's obvious way.
'Come, gentle Air! and thou, celestial Muse!
Thy genial flame infuse,
Enough to lend a pensive bosom aid,
And gild Retirement's gloomy shade;
Enough to rear such rustic lays
As foes may slight, but partial friends will praise.'
The gentle Air allow'd my claim,
And, more to cheer my drooping frame,
She mixt the balm of opening flowers,
Such as the bee, with chemic powers,
From Hybla's fragrant hills inhales,
Or scents Sabea's blooming vales:
But, ah! the nymphs that heal the pensive mind,
By prescripts more refined,
Neglect their votary's anxious moan:
Oh! how should they relieve?-the Muses all were flown.
By flowery plain or woodland shades
I fondly sought the charming maids;
By woodland shades or flowery plain
I sought them, faithless maids! in vain;
When, lo! in happier hour,
I leave behind my native mead,
To range where Zeal and Friendship lead,
To visit Luxborough's honour'd bower.
Ah! foolish man! to seek the tuneful maids
On other plains, or near less verdant shades;
Scarce have my footsteps press'd the favour'd ground,
When sounds ethereal strike my ear;
At once celestial forms appear;
My fugitives are found!
The Muses here attune their lyres,
Ah! partial, with unwonted fires;
Here, hand in hand, with careless mien,
The sportive graces trip the green.
But whilst I wander'd o'er a scene so fair,
Too well at one survey I trace
How every Muse and every Grace
Had long employ'd their care.
Lurks not a stone enrich'd with lively stain,
Blooms not a flower amid the vernal store,
Falls not a plume on India's distant plain,
Glows not a shell on Adria's rocky shore,
But torn, methought, from native lands or seas,
From their arrangement gain fresh power to please.
And some had bent the wildering maze,
Bedeck'd with every shrub that blows,
And some entwined the willing sprays,
To shield th' illustrious dame's repose;
Others had graced the sprightly dome,
And taught the portrait where to glow;
Others arranged the curious tome,
Or, 'mid the decorated space,
Assign'd the laurell'd bust a place,
And given to learning all the pomp of show.
And now from every task withdrawn,
They met and frisk'd it o'er the lawn.
Ah! woe is me, said I,
And - -'s hilly circuit heard my cry:
Have I for this with labour strove,
And lavish'd all my little store,
To fence for you my shady grove,
And scollop every winding shore,
And fringe with every purple rose,
The sapphire stream that down my valley flows?
Ah! lovely treacherous maids!
To quit unseen my votive shades,
When pale Disease, and torturing Pain,
Had torn me from the breezy plain,
And to a restless couch confined,
Who ne'er your wonted tasks declined.
She needs not your officious aid
To swell the song, or plan the shade;
By genuine Fancy fired,
Her native genius guides her hand,
And while she marks the sage command,
More lovely scenes her skill shall raise,
Her lyre resound with nobler lays
Than ever you inspired.
Thus I my rage and grief display,
But vainly blame, and vainly mourn,
Nor will a Grace, or Muse, return
Till Luxborough lead the way.
William Shenstone's Other Poems
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