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John Armstrong (Джон Армстронг)

* * *

Full many a fiend did haunt this house of rest,
And made of passive wights an easy prey.
Here Lethargy with deadly sleep opprest
Stretch'd on his back a mighty lubbard lay,
Heaving his sides; and snored night and day.
To stir him from his traunce it was not eath,
And his half--open'd eyne he shut straightway:
He led I ween the softest way to death,
And taught withouten pain or strife to yield the breath.

Of limbs enormous, but withal unsound,
Soft--swoln and pale, here lay the Hydropsie;
Unwieldy man, with belly monstrous round
For ever fed with watery supply;
For still he drank, and yet he still was dry.
And here a moping Mystery did sit,
Mother of Spleen, in robes of various dye:
She call'd herself the Hypochondriack Fit,
And frantick seem'd to some, to others seem'd a wit.

A lady was she whimsical and proud,
Yet oft thro' fear her pride would crouchen low.
She felt or fancied in her fluttering mood
All the diseases that the Spitals know,
And sought all physick that the shops bestow;
And still new leaches and new drugs would try.
'Twas hard to hit her humour high or low,
For sometimes she would laugh and sometimes cry,
Sometimes would waxen wroth; and all she knew not why.

Fast by her side a listless virgin pin'd,
With aching head and squeamish heart--burnings:
Pale, bloated, cold, she seem'd to hate mankind,
But lov'd in secret all forbidden things.
And here the Tertian shook his chilling wings;
And here the Gout, half tyger half a snake,
Rag'd with an hundred teeth, an hundred stings:
These and a thousand furies more did shake
Those weary realms, and kept ease--loving men awake.

John Armstrong's other poems:
  1. Lincoln Fens
  2. Taste: An Epistle to a Young Critic
  3. Of Benevolence: An Epistle to Eumenes
  4. Progne’s Dream
  5. Now Summer with Her Wanton Court Is Gone

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