1708
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Wine. A Poem.

Wine. A Poem.

John Gay


A burlesque Miltonic ode to the virtues of the grape: "Such is thy pow'rful influence, thou strait | Dispell'd those Clouds that lowring dark eclips'd | The whilom Glories of our gladsom Face, | And dimpled Cheeks, and sparkling rolling Eyes, | Thy chearing Virtues, and thy worth proclaim" p. 5. The first editions were anonymous. While Wine has been little admired by later critics, it was plainly a favorite of eighteenth-century poets, launching a distinct sub-series within the sequence of imitations of Philips's The Splendid Shilling (1701): gin, beer, ale, and punch all had their laureate poets.

Harko G. De Maar: "John Gay's Wine was published in May, 1708 by 'William Keble at the Black Spread Eagle in Westminster Hall.' Wine is a direct imitation of Philips' Splendid Shilling and Cyder. Gay read and studied Milton and Philips. Indeed, the opening lines of Wine are almost copied from Paradise Lost.... But John Philips made him a poet and taught him the mock-heroic strain.... In both Cyder and Wine the Dutch skippers with their fighting and drinking habits receive a share of satire, and the inevitable praise of Marlborough is not wanting in Wine. As a work of art Wine is devoid of interest; the regularity of its metre is monotonous in the extreme and it lacks the enthusiasm and genuine burlesque of Philips" History of Modern English Romanticism (1924) 169.

Richmond P. Bond: "The cleverness with which Gay has caught the various characteristics of Milton will not surprise the student of eighteenth-century poetry, for John Gay had a distinct flair for amusing composition. Wine would have been better if the complimentary passages had been left out, for the sake of both brevity and unanimity of burlesque tone. The poems by Philips in Miltonic metre on the subject of drink must have played a part in Gay's background" English Burlesque Poetry (1932) 261.



Of Happiness Terrestrial, and the Source
Whence human pleasures flow, sing Heavenly Muse,
Of sparkling juices, of th' enliv'ning Grape,
Whose quickning tast adds vigour to the Soul,
Whose sov'raign pow'r revives decaying nature,
And thaws the frozen Blood of hoary Age
A kindly warmth diffusing, Youthful fires
Gild his dim Eyes, and paint with ruddy hue
His wrizzled Visage, ghastly wan before:
Cordial restorative, to mortal Man
With copious Hand by bounteous Gods bestow'd.

BACCHUS Divine, aid my adventrous Song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Inspir'd, Sublime on Pegasean Wing
By thee upborn, I draw Miltonic Air.

When fumy Vapours clog our loaded Brows
With furrow'd Frowns, when stupid downcast Eyes
Th' external Symptoms of remorse within,
Our Grief express, or when in sullen Dumps
With Head Incumbent on Expanded Palm,
Moaping we sit in silent sorrow drown'd:
Whether Inviegling Hymen has trappand
Th' unwary Youth, and ty'd the Gordian Knot
Of jangling Wedlock, Indissoluble;
Worried all Day by loud Xantippes Din,
And when the gentle Dew of sleep inclines
With slumbrous weight his Eye-lids, She inflam'd
With Uncloy'd Lust, and itch Insatiable,
His Stock exhausted, still yells on for more;
Nor fails She to Exalt him to the Stars,
And fix him there among the Branched Crew
(Taurus, and Aries, and Capricorn,)
The greatest Monster of the Zodiac;
Or for the loss of Anxious Worldly Pelf,
Or Celia's scornful slights, and cold disdain
Had check'd his Am'rous flame with coy repulse,
The worst Events that Mortals can befall;
By cares depress'd, in pensive Hypoish Mood,
With slowest pace, the tedious Minuits Roll.

Thy charming sight, but much more charming Gust
New Life incites, and warms our chilly Blood,
Strait with pert Looks, we raise our drooping fronts,
And pour in Chrystal pure, thy purer juice,
With chearful Countenance, and steady Hand
Raise it Lip-high, then fix the spatious Rim
T' expecting Mouth, and now with Grateful tast,
The ebbing Wine glides swiftly o'er the Tongue,
The circling Blood with quicker motion flies;
Such is thy pow'rful influence, thou strait
Dispell'd those Clouds that lowring dark eclips'd
The whilom Glories of our gladsom Face,
And dimpled Cheeks, and sparkling rolling Eyes,
Thy chearing Virtues, and thy worth proclaim.
So Mists and Exhalations that arise
From Hills or steamy Lake, Dusky or Gray
Prevail, till Phoebus sheds Titanian Rays,
And paints their Fleecy skirts with shining Gold;
Unable to resist, the Foggy damps
That veild the surface of the verdant Fields,
At the Gods penetrating Beams dispense:
The Earth again in former Beauty smiles,
In gaudiest Livery drest, all Gay and Clear.

When disappointed Strephon meets Repulse,
Scofft at, despis'd, in Melancholic mood
Joyless he wasts in sighs the lazy Hours,
Till Reinforc't by thy Almighty aid,
He Storms the Breach, and Wins the Beauteous Fort.

To pay Thee Homage, and receive Thy Blessings,
The British Marriner quits native shore,
And ventures through the tractless vast Abyss,
Plowing the Ocean, whilst the Upheav'd Oak
With beaked Prow, Rides tilting ore the Waves;
Shockt by Tempestuous jarring Winds she Rolls
In dangers Imminent, till she arrives
At those blest Climes, thou favourst with thy presence;
Whether, at Lusitanian sultry Coasts,
Or lofty Teneriff, Palma, Ferro,
Provence, Or at the Celtiberian Shores;
With gazing Pleasure, and Astonishment
At Paradice, (Seat of our antient sire,)
He thinks himself arriv'd, the Purple Grape
In largest Clusters Pendant, Grace the Vines
Innumerous, in Fields Grottesque and Wild
They with Implicit Curles the Oak entwine,
And load with Fruit Divine Her spreading Boughs;
Sight most delicious, not an Irksom Thought,
Or of left native Isle, or absent Friends,
Or dearest Wife, or tender sucking Babe,
His kindly treach'rous Mem'ry now presents;
The Jovial GOD has left no room for Cares.

CELESTIAL Liquor, thou that didst inspire
Maro and Flaccus, and the Grecian Bard,
With lofty Numbers, and Heroic strains
Unparelell'd,with Eloquence profound,
And Arguments Convincive didst enforce
Fam'd Tully, and Demosthenes Renown'd:
Ennius first Fam'd in Latin Song, in vain
Drew Heliconian streams, Ungrateful whet
To Jaded Muse, and oft' with vain attempt
Heroic Acts in Flagging Numbers dull
With pains essay'd, but abject still and low,
His Unrecruited Muse could never reach
The mighty Theme, till from the Purple Font
Of bright Lenaean fire, Her barren drought
He quench'd, and with inspiring Nect'rous Juice
Her drooping Spirits chear'd, aloft she towres
Born on stiff Pennons, and of Wars alarms,
And Trophies won, in loftiest Numbers sings:
Tis thou the Hero's breast to Martial Acts,
And resolution bold, and ardour brave
Excit'st, thou check'st Inglorious lolling ease,
And sluggish Minds with gen'rous fires inflam'st,
O thou, that first my quickned Soul engag'd,
Still with thy aid assist me, What is dark
Illumin, What is low raise and support,
That to the height of this great Argument,
Thy Universal Sway o're all the World,
In everlasting Numbers, like the Theme
I may record, and sing thy Matchless Worth.

Had the Oxonian Bard thy Praise rehears'd,
His Muse had yet retain'd her wonted height;
Such as of late o're Blenheims Field she soard
Aerial, now in Ariconian Bogs
She lies Inglorious floundring, like her Theme
Languid and Faint, and on damp Wing immerg'd
In acid juice, in vain attempts to rise.

With what sublimest Joy from noisy Town,
At Rural Seat, Lucretius retir'd,
Flaccus, untainted by perplexing Cares,
Where the white Poplar, and the lofty Pine
Join Neighbouring Boughs, sweet Hospitable shade
Creating, from Phoebean Rays secure,
A cool Retreat, with few well chosen Friends
On flowry Mead Recumbent, spent the Hours
In Mirth innocuous, and Alternate Verse!
With Roses Interwoven, Poplar wreaths
Their Temples bind, dress of Sylvestrian Gods;
Choicest Nectarian juice Crown'd largest Bowles,
And Overlook'd the lid, alluring sight,
Of fragrant Scent attractive, tast Divine!
Whether from Formian Grape depress'd, Falern
Or Setin, Massic, Gauran or Sabine,
Lesbian or Caecuban, the chearing Bowl
Mov'd briskly round, and spur'd their heightned Wit
To Sing Mecaenas praise their Patron kind.

But we, not as our Pristin sires, repair
T' umbrageous Grot or Vale, but when the Sun
Faintly from Western Skies his rays oblique
Darts sloping, and to Thetis watry Lap
Hastens in Prone Career, with Friends Select
Swiftly we hie to Devil Young or Old
Jocund and Boon, where at the entrance stands
A Stripling, who with Scrapes and Humil Cringe,
Greets us in winning Speech and Accent Bland;
With lightest bound, and safe unerring step
He skips before, and nimbly climbs the Stairs:
Melampus thus, panting with lolling Tongue,
And wagging Tail, Gamboles, and frisks before
His sequel Lord from pensive walk return'd,
Whether in Shady Wood, or Pastures Green,
And waits his coming at the well known Gate.
Nigh to the Stairs Ascent, in regal Port
Sits a Majestic Dame, whose looks denounce
Command and Sov'reignty, with haughty Air,
And Studied Mien, in Semicirc'lar Throne
Enclos'd, she deals around her dread Commands;
Behind her (Dazling sight) in order Rang'd,
Pile above Pile Chrystallin Vessels shine;
Attendant Slaves with eager stride advance,
And after Homage paid, bawl out aloud
Words Unintelligible, noise confus'd:
She knows the Jargon Sound, and strait describes
In Characters Mysterious Words obscure;
More legible are Algebraic Signs,
Or Mystic Figures by Magicians drawn,
When thy Invoke aid Diabolical.

Drive hence the Rude and Barb'rous Dissonance
Of Savage Thracians, and Croatian Boors;
The loud Centaurean Broiles with Lapithae
Sound harsh, and grating to Lenaean God:
Chase brutal Feuds of Belgian skippers hence,
(Amid their Cups, whose Innate Tempers shown)
In clumsy Fist wielding Scymetrian Knife,
Who slash each others Eyes, and Blubber'd Face,
Prophaning Bacchanalian solemn rites:
Musicks Harmonious Numbers better suit
His Festivalls, from Instrument or Voice,
Or Gasperini's Hand the trembling string
Should touch, or from the Tuscan Dames,
Or warbling TOFTS more soft Melodious Tongue
Sweet Symphonies should flow, the Delian God
For Airy BACCHUS is Associate meet.

The Stairs Ascent now gain'd, our Guide unbars
The Door of Spatious Room, and creaking Chairs
(To ear offensive) round the Table sets,
We sit, when thus his Florid Speech begins:
Name, Sirs, the WINE that most invites your Tast,
Champaign or Burgundy, or Florence pure,
Or Hock Antique, or Lisbon New or Old,
Bourdeaux, or neat French Wine, or Alicant:
For Bourdeaux we with Voice Unanimous
Declare, (such Sympathy's in Boon Compeers.)
He quits the Room Alert, but soon returns,
One Hand Capacious glist'ring Vessels bore
Resplendant, th' other with a grasp secure,
A Bottle (mighty charge) upstaid, full Fraught
With goodly Wine, He with extended Hand
Rais'd high, pours forth Sanguin frothy Juice,
O'erspread with Bubbles, dissipated soon:
We strait t' our Arms repair, experienc't Chiefs;
Now Glasses clash with Glasses, (charming sound,)
And Glorious ANNA'S Health the first the best
Crowns the full Glass, at HER inspiring Name
The sprightly Wine Results, and seems to Smile,
With hearty Zeal, and wish Unanimous
The Health we Drink, and in HER Health our own.

A Pause ensues, and now with grateful Chat
We improve the Interval, and Joyous Mirth
Engages our rais'd Souls, Pat Repartee,
Or Witty Joke our airy Senses moves
To pleasant Laughter, strait the Ecchoing Room
With Universal Peals and Shouts Resounds.

The ROYAL DANE, blest Consort of blest QUEEN,
Next Crowns the Rubied Nectar, all whose Bliss
In ANNA'S Plac't, with Sympathetic Flame,
And Mutual Endearments, all HER Joys,
Like the kind Turtles pure untainted Love,
Center in HIM, who shares the grateful Hearts
Of Loyal Subjects, with his Sov'reign QUEEN,
For by HIS Prudent Care, united shores
Were sav'd from Hostile Fleets Invasion dire.

The Hero MALBRO next, whose vast Exploits
Fames Clarion sounds, fresh Laurels, Triumphs new
We wish, like those HE won at Hockstets Field.

Next DEVONSHIRE Illustrious, who from Race
Of Noblest Patriots sprung, whose Souls Endow'd,
And is with ev'ry Vertuous gift Adorn'd
That shon in His most worthy Ancestors,
For then distinct in sep'rate Breasts were seen
Virtues distinct, but all in HIM Unite.

Prudent GODOLPHIN, of the Nations weal
Frugal, but free and gen'rous of his own
Next Crowns the Bowl, with Faithful SUNDERLAND,
And HALIFAX, the Muses darling Song,
In whom Conspicuous, with full Lustre shine
The surest Judgment, and the brightest Wit,
Himself Mecaenas and a Flaccus too,
And all the Worthies of the British Realm
In order rang'd succeeded, Healths that ting'd
The Dulcet Wine, with a more charming Gust.

Now each the Mistress by whose scorching Eyes
Fird, tosts Cosmelia Fair, or Dulcibella,
Or Sylvia Comely Black, with jetty Eyes
Piercing, or Airy Celia sprightly Maid.
Insensibly thus flow Unnumber'd Hours;
Glass succeeds Glass, till the DIRCAEAN GOD
Shines in our Eyes, and with his Fulgent Rays
Enlightens our glad Looks with lovely Die;
All Blithe and Jolly that like Arthurs Knights
Of Rotund Fable, Fam'd in Pristin Records,
Now most we seem'd, such is the Power of Wine.

Thus we the winged Hours in harmless Mirth,
And Joys Unsully'd pass, till Humid Night
Has half her Race perform'd, now all Abroad
Is hush'd and silent, nor the Rumbling noise
Of Coach or Cart, or smoaky Link-Boys call
Is heard; but Universal silence Reigns:
When we in Merry Plight, Airy and Gay,
Surpriz'd to find the Hours so swiftly flie,
With hasty knock, or Twang of Pendant Cord
Alarm the drowsy Youth from slumb'ring Nod;
Startled he flies, and stumbles o'er the Stairs
Erroneous, and with busie Knuckles plies
His yet clung Eye-lids, and with stagg'ring Reel
Enters Confus'd, and Mutt'ring asks our Wills;
When we with Lib'ral Hand the Score discharge,
And Homeward each his Course with steady step
Unerring steer'd, of Cares and Coin bereft.

[pp. 3-14]