Ode XXIII:
To Disease

By John Scott

Edited by Jack Lynch

This is a diplomatic transcription of the text in The Poetical Works of 1782.

Disease! Man’s dread, relentless foe,
Fell source of fear, and pain, and woe!
O say, on what ill-fated coast
They mourn thy tyrant reign the most?
On Java’s bogs, or Gambia’s sand,
Or Persia’s sultry southern strand;
Or Egypt’s annual-flooded plain,
Or Rome’s neglected, waste domain;
Or where her walls Byzantium rears,
And mosques and turrets crescent-crown’d,
And from his high serail the sultan hears
The wide Propontis’ beating waves resound.
    I’ll ask no more — Our clime, tho’ fair,
    Enough thy tyrant reign must share;
    And lovers there, and friends, complain,
    By Thee their friends and lovers slain:
    And yet our Avarice and our Pride
    Combine to spread thy mischiefs wide;
    While that the captive wretch confines,
    To hunger, cold, and filth resigns, —
    And this the funeral pomp attends
    To vaults, where mouldering corses lie, —
Amid foul air thy form unseen ascends,
And like a vulture hovers in the sky.