Praise Of Wine: A Heroic Poem
exalt, enthrone, establish and defend,
To welcome home mankind's mysterious friend
Wine, true begetter of all arts that
Wine, privilege of the completely free;
Wine the recorder;
wine the sagely strong;
Wine, bright avenger of sly-dealing
Awake, Ausonian Muse, and sing the vineyard song!
how the Charioteer from Asia came,
And on his front the little
Which marked the God-head. Sing the
The gilded Thyrsus twirling, and the gleam
cymbals through the darkness. Sing the drums.
He comes; the young
renewer of Hellas comes!
The Seas await him. Those Aegean
Roll from the dawning, ponderous, ill at ease,
In lifts of
lead, whose cresting hardly breaks
To ghostly foam, when suddenly
A mountain glory inland. All the skies
luminous; and amid the sea bird cries
The mariner hears a morning
Then goes the Pageant forward. The sea-way
the feet of that august array
Trailing above the waters, through
And as they pass a wind before them bears
quickening word, the influence magical.
The Islands have received
The long shores of the mainland. Something
The warm Euboean combes, the sacred hills
Of Aulis and of
Argos. Still they move
Touching the City walls, the Temple
Till, far upon the horizon-glint, a gleam
Of light, of
trembling light, revealed they seem
Turned to a cloud, but to a
cloud that shines,
And everywhere as they pass, the Vines! The
The Vines, the conquering Vines! And the Vine breaths
savor through the upland, empty heaths
treeless wastes; the Vines have come to where
The dark Pelasgian
steep defends the lair
Of the wolf's hiding; to the empty
By Aufidus, the dry campaign that yields
No harvest for
the husbandman, but now
Shall bear a nobler foison than the
To where, festooned along the tall elm trees,
are mirrored in Tyrrhenian seas;
To where the South awaits them;
even to where
Stark, African informed of burning air,
to Heaven the broad Hipponian plain
Extends luxurious and invites
Guelma's a mother: barren Thaspsa breeds;
northward in the valleys, next the meads
That sleep by misty river
banks, the Vines
Have struck to spread below the solemn pines.
Vines are on the roof-trees. All the Shrines
And Homes of men are
consecrate with Vines.
And now the task of that triumphant
Has reached to victory. In the reddening ray
With all his
train, from hard Iberian lands
Fulfilled, apparent, that Creator
Halted on Atlas. Far Beneath him, far,
The strength of
Ocean darkening and the star
Beyond all shores. There is a silence
It glorifies: and the gigantic shade
Of Hercules adores
him from the West.
Dead Lucre: burnt Ambition: Wine is best.
what are these that from the outer murk
Of dense mephitic vapors
To breathe foul airs from that corrupted well
oozes slime along the floor of Hell?
These are the stricken
palsied brood of sin
In whose vile veins, poor, poisonous and
Decoctions of embittered hatreds crawl:
These are the
Water-Drinkers, cursed all!
On what gin-sodden Hags, what flaccid
Bred these White Slugs from what exhaust desires?
close prison's horror were their wiles
Watched by what tyrant
power with evil smiles;
Or in what caverns, blocked from grace and
Received they, then, the mandates of despair?
our race, our tragic race, that roam
All exiled from our first,
and final, home:
That in one moment of temptation lost
heritage, and now wander, hunger-tost
Beyond the Gates (still
speaking with our eyes
For ever of remembered Paradise),
we with every gift accepted, still,
With every joy, receive
Must some lewd evil follow all our good
muttering dog our brief beatitude?
A primal doom, inexorable,
Permitted, ordered, even these to rise.
Even in the
shadow of so bright a Lord
Must swarm and propagate the filthy
Debased, accursed I say, abhorrent and abhorred.
and curse-bestowing. For whosoe'er
Shall suffer their contagion,
Falls from the estate of man and finds his end
the mere beverage of the beast condemned.
For such as these in
vain the Rhine has rolled
Imperial centuries by hills of gold;
such as these the flashing Rhone shall rage
In vain its lightning
through the Hermitage
Or level-browed divine Touraine receive
tribute of her vintages at eve.
For such as these Burgundian heats
Swell the rich slope or load the empurpled plain.
for such as these the mighty task
Of bottling God the Father in a
And leading all Creation down distilled
To one small
ardent sphere immensely filled.
With memories empty, with
With vapid eye-balls meaningless and dull
pass unblest through the unfruitful light;
And when we open the
bronze doors of Night,
When we in high carousal, we reclined,
up to Heaven the still ascending mind,
Pass with the all
inspiring, to and fro,
The torch of genius and the Muse's
They, lifeless, stare at vacancy alone
Or plan mean
traffic, or repeat their moan.
We, when repose demands us,
In young white arms, like our great Exemplar
wearied with creation, takes his rest
And sinks to sleep on
They through the darkness into darkness
Despised, abandoned and companionless.
And when the
course of either's sleep has run
We leap to life like heralds of
We from the couch in roseate mornings gay
equals the exultant day
While they, the unworthy, unrewarded,
The dank despisers of the Vine, arise
To watch grey dawns
and mourn indifferent skies.
Forget them! Form the Dionysian
And pulse the ground, and Io, Io, sing.
Lenaean, to whom our strength belongs,
Our loves, our wars, our
laughter and our songs,
Remember our inheritance, who praise
glory in these last unhappy days
When beauty sickens and a muddied
Of baseness fouls the universal globe.
Though all the Gods
indignant and their train
Abandon ruined man, do thou remain!
thee the vesture of our life was made,
The Embattled Gate, the
The woven fabric's gracious hues, the sound
trumpets, and the quivering fountain-round,
the Arch, and, high,
The Shaft of Stone that stands against the
And, last, the guardian-genius of them, Rhyme,
beyond the world to conquer time:
All these are thine,
By thee do seers the inward light discern;
the statue lives, the Gods return;
By thee the thunder and the
Of loud Acquoria's torrent call to Rome;
rejoices in a thousand springs,
Gensano laughs, and Orvieto
But, Ah! With Orvieto, with that name
Eturian, subterranean flame
The years dissolve. I am standing in
Of majesty Septembral, and the power
Which swells the
clusters when the nights are still
With autumn stars on Orvieto
Had these been mine, Ausonian Muse, to know
contented oxen heaving slow;
To count my sheaves at harvest; so to
Perfected days in peace until the end;
evening's dust of gold to hear
The bells upon the pasture height,
Full horn of herdsmen gathering in the kine
ancient byres in hamlets Appenine,
And crown abundant age with
Had these, Ausonian Muse, had these, had
But since I would not, since I could not stay,
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
there not one that did to Heaven complain
How, driving through the
midnight and the rain,
He struck, the Atlantic seethe and surge
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;
name disherited; a broken sword;
Wounds unrenowned; battle beneath
Strong blows, but on the void, and toil without
When from the waste of such long labor done
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
Come to the term of all that was mine own
nothingness before me, and alone;
Then to what hope of answer
shall I turn?
Comrade-Commander whom I dared not earn,
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
Let not Your cup desert me in the end.
But when the
hour of mine adventure's near
Just and benignant, let my youth
Bearing a Chalice, open, golden, wide,
graven on its side.
So touch my dying lip: so bridge that deep:
pledge my waking from the gift of sleep,
And, sacramental, raise
me the Divine:
brother in God and last companion, Wine.
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
courtesy of vintagewinepoems.com