“SICKNESS. An ODE”
From the GRUBSTREET JOURNAL.
At midnight when the fever rag’d,
By physic’s art still unasswag’d,
And totur’d me with pain:
When most it scorch’d my acking head,
Like sulph’rous fire, or liquid lead, 5
And hiss’d through every vein:
With silent steps approaching nigh,
Pale death stood trembling in my eye,
And shook th’ up-lifted dart:
My mind did various thoughts debate 10
Of this, and of an after state,
Which terrify’d my heart.
I thought ‘twas hard, in youthful age,
To quit this fine delightful stage,
No more to view the day; 15
Nor e’er again the night to spend
In social converse with a friend,
Ingenious, learn’d, and gay.
No more in curious books to read
The wisdom of th’ illustrious dead; 20
All that is dear to leave,
Relations, friends, and MIRA too,
Without one kiss, one dear adieu,
To moulder in the grave.
Incircled with congenial clay, 25
To worms and creeping things a prey,
To waste, dissolve, and rot:
To lie wrapp’d cold within a shroud,
Mingled amongst the vilest crowd,
Unnoted, and forgot. 30
Oh horror by this train of thought
My mind was to distraction brought,
Impossible to tell:
The fever rag’d still more without,
Whilst dark despair, or dismal doubt, 35
Made all within my hell.
At length, with grave, yet cheerful air
Repentance came, serenely fair,
As summer’s evening sun;
At sight of whom extatic joy 40
Did all that horrid scene destroy;
And every fear was gone.
If join’d in consort, with one voice,
Angels at such a change rejoice;
I heard their joy exprest. 45
If there be music in the spheres,
That music struck my ravish’d ears,
And charm’d my soul to rest.
Title The Grubstreet Journal (January 1730-1738) was a critical and satirical newspaper published weekly in London (The Library of Congress).
2 unasswag’d An archaic spelling of unassuaged; “not soothed or relieved” (Oxford Dictionaries [no definition given in OED]).
24 moulder “To decay to dust; to rot; to crumble” (OED).
25 congenial “Suited to the nature of” (OED).
43 consort “To keep company with; to escort or attend” (OED).
Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (January 1733), p. 42.
Edited by Valerie Pedroche