Mark Akenside

(1721-1770 / England)

Ode Xii: On Recovering From A Fit Of Sickness, In The Country - Poem by Mark Akenside

Thy verdant scenes, O Goulder's hill,
Once more i seek, a languid guest:
With throbbing temples and with burden'd breast
Once more i climb thy steep aerial way.
O faithful cure of oft-returning ill,
Now call thy sprightly breezes round,
Dissolve this rigid cough profound,
And bid the springs of life with gentler movement play.

How gladly 'mid the dews of dawn
My weary lungs thy healing gale,
The balmy west or the fresh north, inhale!
How gladly, while my musing footsteps rove
Round the cool orchard or the sunny lawn,
Awak'd i stop, and look to find
What shrub perfumes the pleasant wind,
Or what wild songster charms the Dryads of the grove.

Now, ere the morning walk is done,
The distant voice of health i hear
Welcome as beauty's to the lover's ear.
“Droop not, nor doubt of my return,” she cries;
“Here will i, 'mid the radiant calm of noon,
“Meet thee beneath yon chesnut bower,
“And lenient on thy bosom pour
“That indolence divine which lulls the earth and skies.”

The goddess promis'd not in vain.
I found her at my favorite time.
Nor wish'd to breathe in any softer clime,
While (half-reclin'd, half-slumbering as i lay)
She hover'd o'er me. Then, among her train
Of nymphs and zephyrs, to my view
Thy gracious form appear'd anew,
Then first, o heavenly Muse, unseen for many a day.

In that soft pomp the tuneful maid
Shone like the golden star of love.
I saw her hand in careless measures move;
I heard sweet preludes dancing on her lyre,
While my whole frame the sacred sound obey'd.
New sunshine o'er my fancy springs,
New colours clothe external things,
And the last glooms of pain and sickly plaint retire.

O Goulder's hill, by thee restor'd
Once more to this inliven'd hand,
My harp, which late resounded o'er the land
The voice of glory, solemn and severe,
My Dorian harp shall now with mild accord
To thee her joyful tribute pay,
And send a less-ambitious lay
Of friendship and of love to greet thy master's ear.

For when within thy shady seat
First from the sultry town he chose,
And the tir'd senate's cares, his wish'd repose,
Then wast thou mine; to me a happier home
For social leisure: where my welcome feet,
Estrang'd from all the intangling ways
In which the restless vulgar strays,
Through nature's simple paths with ancient faith might roam.

And while around his sylvan scene
My Dyson led the white-wing'd hours,
Oft from the Athenian Academic bowers
Their sages came: oft heard our lingering walk
The Mantuan music warbling o'er the green:
And oft did Tully's reverend shade,
Though much for liberty afraid,
With us of letter'd ease or virtuous glory talk.

But other guests were on their way,
And reach'd erelong this favor'd grove;
Even the celestial progeny of Jove,
Bright Venus, with her all-subduing son,
Whose golden shaft most willingly obey
The best and wisest. As they came,
Glad Hymen wav'd his genial flame,
And sang their happy gifts, and prais'd their spotless throne.

I saw when through yon festive gate
He led along his chosen maid,
And to my friend with smiles presenting said;
“Receive that fairest wealth which heaven assign'd
“To human fortune. Did thy lonely state
“One wish, one utmost hope confess?
“Behold, she comes, to adorn and bless:
“Comes, worthy of thy heart, and equal to thy mind.”

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 17, 2010

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