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The Rhyme Maker
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Marguerite Wilkinson

Theme:  Tributes and Toasts

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) and Ralph Waldo Emerson
 (1803-1882) are giants of American letters. They are America's “bread and wine”.

Whitman (first two stanzas) is considered the father of modern American verse, which goes to show you that you DON'T HAVE TO use wine in your poetry to be a passable poet.  (If anyone knows of a Whitman poem with even a splash of grape juice in it, let me know!)

Emerson (last two stanzas) was poet, essayist, and philosopher of monumental importance.  Oliver Wendell Holmes once referred to an Emerson speech as “America’s Intellectual Declaration of Independence.”
-S. H. Bass  

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Verses from the Vine

vinted and bottled by Stephen H. Bass
Whitman And Emerson
Marguerite Wilkinson (1883-1928), American poet

Master who bravely planted seeds unknown
And labored with a stark sincerity
To aid their sturdy growth, behold them grown!
Thy harvest hath restored our granary:
Wherefore, for bread, to thee and thee alone
Of all the bards who sing from sea to sea
Our native Great must look, and looking own
Thy providence for their futurity.

Let those who have a softer, daintier need
At other banquets rest; they will not find
Such power as thine to nourish – bread indeed,
Giving new life to body, heart and mind:
They will not find in all the halls of Time
A food more hardy, natural, sublime.

Master who entered in the heat of day
The vineyard where the purple of our race
Through olden courses found a tortuous way
On to the grape's fruition, twas thy grace
To dig about the roots of our dismay,
To speed the native sap, to make a place
For tendrils new, to press new fruit and say:
Unto this Grail, O Nation, lift thy face!

Thy thought hath filled our chalice to the brim.
And made a sacrament for those who live
Above the present moment's garish whim,
In hope to be, to toil, to love, to give:
Strong spiritual vintages combine
In this thy cup. There is no sweeter wine.

from The Lyric Year: One Hundred Poems (1912)

Ralph Waldo Emerson at Amazon:
                                  Poems                           The Essential Writings

Walt Whitman at Amazon:
                       The Complete Poems       Leaves of Grass and Other Writings
                          (Penguin Classics)                   (Norton Critical Editions)

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