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Hilaire Belloc
Hilaire Belloc
1870-1953


Theme:  Praising Wine


Notes

Hilaire Belloc's In Praise Of Wine: A Herioc Poem (sometimes called “A Heroic Poem In Praise Of Wine”) is an awesome poem, over 200 lines in length. Belloc takes us through the tale of Dionysus, the god of wine, and then calls upon him to help fend off the onslaught of the modern (in 1931) Temperance Movement. It is a beautiful piece of epic poetry.

In this abridged version, much of the tale of Dionysus and Belloc's "rant"  against the Temperance Movement is left out.   The first and final stanzas could also stand alone.  For those who wish to share with friends or in association with a business, blog, or website, the Printable
version is good for cutting and pasting.

You can also find an explanation of the storyline, references, and obscure terminology at the special note link that follows.
 – S. H. Bass

Special Note:  Belloc's "In Praise of Wine"


more Hilaire Belloc at
vintagewinepoems.com
In Praise of Wine: A Heroic Poem (complete)
On The Excellence Of Burgundy Wine
Sonnet Upon God, The Wine Giver



        
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In Praise Of Wine: A Heroic Poem (abridged)
Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

To exalt, enthrone, establish and defend,
To welcome home mankind's mysterious friend
Wine, true begetter of all arts that be;
Wine, privilege of the completely free;
Wine the recorder; wine the sagely strong;
Wine, bright avenger of sly-dealing wrong,
Awake, Ausonian Muse, and sing the vineyard song!

Sing how the Charioteer from Asia came,
And on his front the little dancing flame
Which marked the God-head. Sing the Panther-team,
The gilded Thyrsus twirling, and the gleam

Of cymbals through the darkness. Sing the drums.
He comes; the young renewer of Hellas comes! 

 . . .

Father Lenaean, to whom our strength belongs,
Our loves, our wars, our laughter and our songs,
Remember our inheritance, who praise
Your glory in these last unhappy days
When beauty sickens and a muddied robe
Of baseness fouls the universal globe.
Though all the Gods indignant and their train
Abandon ruined man, do thou remain!
By thee the vesture of our life was made,
The Embattled Gate, the lordly Colonnade,
The woven fabric's gracious hues, the sound
Of trumpets, and the quivering fountain-round,
And, indestructible, the Arch, and, high,
The Shaft of Stone that stands against the sky,
And, last, the guardian-genius of them, Rhyme,
Come from beyond the world to conquer time:
All these are thine, Lenaean.

By thee do seers the inward light discern;
By thee the statue lives, the Gods return;
By thee the thunder and the falling foam
Of loud Acquoria's torrent call to Rome;
Alba rejoices in a thousand springs,
Gensano laughs, and Orvieto sings...
But, Ah! With Orvieto, with that name
Of dark, Eturian, subterranean flame
The years dissolve. I am standing in that hour
Of majesty Septembral, and the power
Which swells the clusters when the nights are still
With autumn stars on Orvieto hill.

Had these been mine, Ausonian Muse, to know
The large contented oxen heaving slow;
To count my sheaves at harvest; so to spend
Perfected days in peace until the end;
With every evening's dust of gold to hear
The bells upon the pasture height, the clear
Full horn of herdsmen gathering in the kine
To ancient byres in hamlets Appenine,
And crown abundant age with generous ease:
Had these, Ausonian Muse, had these, had these.....

But since I would not, since I could not stay,
Let me remember even in this my day
How, when the ephemeral vision's lure is past
All, all, must face their Passion at the last

Was there not one that did to Heaven complain
How, driving through the midnight and the rain,
He struck, the Atlantic seethe and surge before,
Wrecked in the North along a lonely shore
To make the lights of home and hear his name no more.
Was there not one that from a desperate field
Rode with no guerdon but a rifted shield;
A name disherited; a broken sword;
Wounds unrenowned; battle beneath no Lord;
Strong blows, but on the void, and toil without reward.

When from the waste of such long labor done
I too must leave the grape-ennobling sun
And like the vineyard worker take my way
Down the long shadows of declining day,
Bend on the somber plain my clouded sight
And leave the mountain to the advancing night,
Come to the term of all that was mine own
With nothingness before me, and alone;
Then to what hope of answer shall I turn?
Comrade-Commander whom I dared not earn,
What said You then to trembling friends and few?
"A moment, and I drink it with you new:
But in my Father's Kingdom." So, my Friend,
Let not Your cup desert me in the end.
But when the hour of mine adventure's near
Just and benignant, let my youth appear
Bearing a Chalice, open, golden, wide,
With benediction graven on its side.
So touch my dying lip: so bridge that deep:
So pledge my waking from the gift of sleep,
And, sacramental, raise me the Divine:
Strong brother in God and last companion, Wine.


First published in 1931, this work is in the public domain in the U.S. because it was first published before 1978 and its copyright was now renewed.
 - SHB


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