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The Rhyme Maker
John Gould Fletcher
John Gould Fletcher

Theme:  Poetry and Poets

[1] Dionysus was the Greek god of wine and Apollo, along with other domains of influence, was the god of poetry.  This wine poem reflects a poet's quandary concerning which of these two gods to follow.

[2] Dionysus wandered the earth gifting peoples with the joys of the grape vine. One of his most well known excursions was to India.  Maenads were female followers of Dionysus.  See Witter Bynner's wine poem Bacchanalian.

[3] As Greek myth tells us, Daphne was a beautiful nymph that caught the god Apollo's fancy (due to a “love arrow” from Cupid/Eros in one version).  Apollo persued the lovely Daphne, but the fear-filled beauty appealed to the river god for protection, at which point she was turned into a laurel tree – the source of the famed “laurel wreath crown” awarded to victorious warriors and successful poets.

[4] Bromius is another name for Dionysus.

[5] “the sacted Nine” = the nine muses, inspirers of all that is artsy in Greek and Roman mythology.

- S. H. Bass  

more John Gould Fletcher at

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Dionysus And Apollo [1]
John Gould Fletcher (1886-1950), American poet

Dionysus from India straying [2]
Runs fast through the low marsh-towns:
His maenads dishevelled run after
Yelping like bloodthirsty hounds.

Apollo sits high on a summit [3]
And looks on the glittering range.
He dreams that pale Daphne he follows,
Though to bitter-sweet laurel she change.

The wine is thy life-blood, O Bromius, [4]
But my blood is sorrow and song.
You offer me life, and hot folly,
When I want cold glory and wrong.

If I weep not a sob shall escape me,
If I kiss not a kiss shall I waste.
I shall fashion grape-clusters of singing
But no single grape shall I taste :

Dionysus I shall not follow,
Too drowsy and dull is his wine.
I shall sit on the heights with Apollo,
And be taught of the sacred Nine. [5]

from Fire And Wine (1913)

Fire And Wine (1913) by John Gould Fletcher



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