Mary Darby Robinson
Ode To Health
Poem by Mary Darby Robinson
Come, bright-eyed maid,
Pure offspring of the tranquil mind,
Haste, my fev'rish temples bind
With olive wreaths of em'rald hue
Steep'd in morn's ethereal dew,
Where in mild HELVETIA's shade,
Blushing summer round her flings
Warm gales and sunny show'rs that hang upon her wings.
I'll seek thee in ITALIA's bow'rs,
Where supine on beds of flow'rs
Melody's soul-touching throng
Strike the soft lute or trill the melting song:
Where blithe FANCY, queen of pleasure,
Pours each rich luxuriant treasure.
For thee I'll climb the breezy hill,
While the balmy dews distill
Odours from the budding thorn,
Drop'd from the lust'rous lids of morn;
Who, starting from her shad'wy bed,
Binds her gold fillet round the mountain's head.
There I'll press from herbs and flow'rs
Juices bless'd with opiate pow'rs,
Whose magic potency can heal
The throb of agonizing pain,
And thro' the purple swelling vein
With subtle influence steal:
Heav'n opes for thee its aromatic store
To bathe each languid gasping pore;
But where, O where, shall cherish'd sorrow find
The lenient balm to soothe the feeling mind.
O, mem'ry! busy barb'rous foe,
At thy fell touch I wake to woe:
Alas! the flatt'ring dream is o'er,
From thee the bright illusions fly,
Thou bidst the glitt'ring phantoms die,
And hope, and youth, and fancy, charm no more.
No more for me the tip-toe SPRING
Drops flowrets from her infant wing;
For me in vain the wild thymes bloom
Thro' the forest flings perfume;
In vain I climb th'embroider'd hill
To breathe the clear autumnal air;
In vain I quaff the lucid rill
Since jocund HEALTH delights not there
To greet my heart:no more I view,
With sparkling eye, the silv'ry dew
Sprinkling May's tears upon the folded rose,
As low it droops its young and blushing head,
Press'd by grey twilight to its mossy bed:
No more I lave amidst the tide,
Or bound along the tufted grove,
Or o'er enamel'd meadows rove,
Where, on Zephyr's pinions, glide
Salubrious airs that waft the nymph repose.
Lightly o'er the yellow heath
Steals thy soft and fragrant breath,
Breath inhal'd from musky flow'rs
Newly bath'd in perfum'd show'rs.
See the rosy-finger'd morn
Opes her bright refulgent eye,
Hills and valleys to adorn,
While from her burning glance the scatter'd vapours fly.
Soon, ah soon! the painted scene,
The hill's blue top, the valley's green,
Midst clouds of snow, and whirlwinds drear,
Shall cold and comfortless appear:
The howling blast shall strip the plain,
And bid my pensive bosom learn,
Tho' NATURE's face shall smile again,
And, on the glowing breast of Spring
Creation all her gems shall fling,
YOUTH's April morn shall ne'er return.
Then come, Oh quickly come, Hygeian Maid!
Each throbbing pulse, each quiv'ring nerve pervade.
Flash thy bright fires across my languid eye,
Tint my pale visage with thy roseate die,
Bid my heart's current own a temp'rate glow,
And from its crimson source in tepid channels flow.
O HEALTH, celestial Nymph! without thy aid
Creation sickens in oblivions shade:
Along the drear and solitary gloom
We steal on thorny footsteps to the tomb;
Youth, age, wealth, poverty alike agree
To live is anguish, when depriv'd of Thee.
To THEE indulgent Heav'n benignly gave
The touch to heal, the extacy to save.
The balmy incense of thy fost'ring breath
Wafts the wan victim from the fangs of Death,
Robs the grim Tyrant of his trembling prize,
Cheers the faint soul, and lifts it to the skies.
Let not the gentle rose thy bounty drest
To meet the rising son with od'rous breast,
Which glow'd with artless tints at noon-tide hour,
And shed soft tears upon each drooping flower,
With with'ring anguish mourn the parting Day,
Shrink to the Earth, and sorrowing fade away.
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