IN the hoary wine-cave’s mirk
Genii of the vintage lurk, —
Potent genii shrewd and merry:
Burgundy and laughing Sherry,
Sweet Tokay and Muscatel,
That of flowers do taste and smell
(Fit to pledge with Ariel) ;
Cloying Port and blithe Champagne,
Greekish wines and wines of Spain,—
Jovial all, and all unsteady!
Subtle liqueurs strange and heady,—
Curacoa and Anisette,
And Absinthe wooing to forget.
These besiege you as you fare
Groping from the upper air ;
Tap nor spigot do they ask
To set them free from hoopèd cask.
If you be an anchorite,
They will take your brain by sleight,
Enter with the breath you draw,
And each pore will be a flaw
To let in the vinous rout.
But if there you drink a bout,
While the winking candle-ray
Lights the wine upon its way,
And the ancient cellarer prates
Mellowly of names and dates,—
Of holitides when Bacchus bled,
Of revels and of revelers fled, —
If a pledge or two you quaff,
At these genii you may laugh,
For their cunning in your veins
Makes you proof to all their trains.
Prince, my counsel scan and muse ;
In this life of glimmering clues,
Where the wisest ofttimes slip,
Fare you not with unwet lip.
Drink you must the potion rife
Of the olden vintage Life ;
So shall you be more exempt,
When the juggling genii tempt,
Than the pale recluse whose cell
Harbors many a traitor fell.
Caution shall more peril meet
Than ardor borne on glowing feet.
Fiery spirit safe shall tent
Its own deathless element,
And the poet, mad from birth,
Is the sanest soul on earth!
Edith M. Thomas.