by: Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

      RING me wine, but wine which never grew
      In the belly of the grape,
      Or grew on vine whose tap-roots, reaching through
      Under the Andes to the Cape,
      Suffer'd no savour of the earth to 'scape.
      Let its grapes the morn salute
      From a nocturnal root,
      Which feels the acrid juice
      Of Styx and Erebus;
      And turns the woe of Night,
      By its own craft, to a more rich delight.
      We buy ashes for bread;
      We buy diluted wine;
      Give me of the true,
      Whose ample leaves and tendrils curl'd
      Among the silver hills of heaven
      Draw everlasting dew;
      Wine of wine,
      Blood of the world,
      Form of forms, and mould of statures,
      That I intoxicated,
      And by the draught assimilated,
      May float at pleasure through all natures;
      The bird-language rightly spell,
      And that which roses say so well:
      Wine that is shed
      Like the torrents of the sun
      Up the horizon walls,
      Or like the Atlantic streams, which run
      When the South Sea calls.
      Water and bread,
      Food which needs no transmuting,
      Rainbow-flowering, wisdom-fruiting,
      Wine which is already man,
      Food which teach and reason can.
      Wine which Music is,--
      Music and wine are one,--
      That I, drinking this,
      Shall hear far Chaos talk with me;
      Kings unborn shall walk with me;
      And the poor grass shall plot and plan
      What it will do when it is man.
      Quicken'd so, will I unlock
      Every crypt of every rock.
      I thank the joyful juice
      For all I know;
      Winds of remembering
      Of the ancient being blow,
      And seeming-solid walls of use
      Open and flow.
      Pour, Bacchus! the remembering wine;
      Retrieve the loss of me and mine!
      Vine for vine be antidote,
      And the grape requite the lote!
      Haste to cure the old despair;
      Reason in Nature's lotus drench'd--
      The memory of ages quench'd--
      Give them again to shine;
      Let wine repair what this undid;
      And where the infection slid,
      A dazzling memory revive;
      Refresh the faded tints,
      Recut the agèd prints,
      And write my old adventures with the pen
      Which on the first day drew,
      Upon the tablets blue,
      The dancing Pleiads and eternal men.

"Bacchus" is reprinted from Early Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ralph Waldo Emerson. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Company, 1899.




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