by: William Dean Howells
- ES, death
is at the bottom of the cup,
- And every one that lives must drink it up;
- And yet between the sparkle at the top
- And the black lees where lurks the bitter drop,
- There swims enough good liquor, Heaven knows,
- To ease our hearts of all their other woes.
- The bubbles rise in sunshine at the brim;
- That drop below is very far and dim;
- The quick fumes spread, and shape us such bright dreams
- That in the glad delirium it seems
- As though by some deft sleight, if so we willed,
- That drop untasted might be somehow spilled.
MORE POEMS BY WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS
"If" is reprinted from
The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900. Ed. Jessie
B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.