Top 10 wine poems

10: A Drinking Song, William Butler Yeats

Dublin-born poet William Butler Yeats won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923 for his poetry, and was the first Irishman to be honoured with the award. Fascinated by the occult, mysticism and astrology, Yeats was inspired and informed by the poets of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and Percy B. Shelley. In 1880, he and Ernest Rhys co-founded the Rhymers’ Club, a group of London-based poets who regularly met in a Fleet Street tavern to recite their verse, referring to the group as the “Tragic Generation” in his autobiography.

Wine comes in at the mouth

And love comes in at the eye;

That’s all we shall know for truth

Before we grow old and die.

I lift the glass to my mouth,

I look at you, and I sigh.

4 Responses to “Top 10 wine poems”

  1. This little-known Song is a relatively early work by John Dryden, dating from 1661: a modestly comic adversion to the perils of drink. Does it deserve a larger reputation?


    Just Caesar, whom the world obeyed,
    Augustus Great, proud Tiberine
    Could ne’er have drunk, sure ne’er have made
    Kind Bacchus! such an ardent wine.
    Tell Princes, Kings; tell France; tell Spain
    Of Hippocrene
    Empurpled as Augustus’ train.

    Recalling this alone:
    All men are free to drown their sorrow –
    Not Caesar only – and to sell the morrow
    Cheap. But this once done –
    How costly seems the morning sun!

    Well, while it displays some typically Drydenesque metrical daring, its effects seem, all the same, underpowered; and its reliance on Caesarean imagery, predictable. As an apprentice piece, therefore, it’s bearable; but not much more.

    The only thing to make it stand out is this curious anomaly – spotted by the Sediment research team a while ago: the poem is an acrostic, in which the first letter of every line, read from top to bottom, spells out a name. In this case, JACKTONE RANCH, nowadays associated with a popular Californian wine range. Coincidence? Prescience? How could Dryden have known of Californian wines, three hundred and sixty years ago? And why this particular brand? The mystery remains. As the does the poem itself:

  2. Sanjay Srivatsa says:

    Let us have wine and woman, mirth and laughter,
    Sermons and soda water the day after.

    Man, being reasonable, must get drunk;
    The best of life is but intoxication:
    Glory, the grape, love, gold, in these are sunk
    The hopes of all men, and of every nation;
    Without their sap, how branchless were the trunk
    Of life’s strange tree, so fruitful on occasion:
    But to return–Get very drunk; and when
    You wake with head-ache, you shall see what then.
    Lord Byron Don Juan

  3. Brian M Reschke says:

    Does anyone know of a poem called “Die Weinkarte” A poem about german wines that my Oma (born 1906) used to know. Thanks in advance!

  4. Juno310 says:

    Married in her 18, Not 1811

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters