Wine Song [poem by E. J. Brady]

[Editor: This poem by E. J. Brady was published in The Earthen Floor (1902).]


Wine Song.

An Orient grape, enchanted, bled
This drowsy tropic wine,
That stains a deep and dewy red
Thy ripe lip’s own carmine.
I bless its trellised vines that gleam
On some far-sloped hillside,
Their green leaves dozing while I dream
Fair fancies by thy side.

The angry noon-sun may not tease
Our kind seclusion here;
The blue wave glitters through the trees
Deep as thine eyes, my dear
In this quaint cave cool mosses be,
Rare orchids at its eaves,
And I have weaved a crown for thee
Of twining, heart-shaped leaves.

The speckled lizard pants, in thrall —
His eyes dark legends in —
Bswitched by wayward notes that fall
Soft from thy mandolin.
The fire-flow’r, at thy bosom throws
A warm, reflected glow,
As on white damask burns the rose,
Or lighted torch on snow.

A petalled myrtle loads the air
With virgin fragrancies,
And wild rock-lilies wanton dare
The court of roving bees.
Here dwells Romance! White wine we’ll pour,
Through its bright beads to see
The brave, fond knights who canter o’er
Fair fields of Arcadie.

Beloved, touch the waiting strings,
All-eloquent to tell
Of minstrel days, of courtly things,
Of deeds that once befel;
And down these clear rock cups, in theme,
The filtered drops will play;
While mimic rainbows fade and beam —
Arcaded on their spray!

Oh, lovers, ’neath the shadowed walls
I hear your faint guitars!
Oh, strange white moon, how still it falls
On silks and scimitars!
See, where the castled Rhine rolls by,
The Lorelei sings again,
And drops from Rhenish wine-cups dye
The beard of Charlemagne.

A fair white hand o’er casement droops
Languid from silken sleeve;
The red rose falls: our minstrel stoops
Rich payment to receive.
Dim shadows o’er the moat amain
Loom fast and lengthily
’Till gallant walks the sun again
In fields of fleur-de-lys.

Red Muscat pour! Its bouquet hints
Some Persian bard’s love-song,
While through my brimming glass there glints
The Ganges’ tide along.
The poppy and the lotus shake
From out their hearts the dew,
And dreamily dark eyes awake
To close and dream anew.

Red wine! In sooth the vine hath drawn
Red magic from the Sun,
And charmèd sunset, mystic dawn,
Hath blended, twain in one.
Lo, in my veins its hot fires rove,
And I must kiss, I vow,
Thy whiteness sweet . . . Dear Love,
It stains thy bosom now!

E. J. Brady, The Earthen Floor, Grafton (N.S.W.): Grip Newspaper Co., 1902

Editor’s notes:
Charlemagne = (ca. 747 – 814), also known as Charles the Great or Charles I, ruler of a kingdom centred on modern-day France, Charlemagne was King of the Franks, King of Italy, and the first Holy Roman Emperor (ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, centred on modern-day Germany)

fleur-de-lys = (French) “flower of the lily” (also spelt “fleur-de-lis”); a heraldic representation of a lily (used on coats of arms and other heraldic devices; especially associated with the French monarchy)

Ganges = the Ganges river (India and Bangladesh)

Lorelei = (also known as “Loreley” or “Lurline”) a female water spirit associated with a huge rock formation on the eastern bank of the Rhine, south of St. Goarshausen (Sankt Goar), Germany; the spirit is part of German folklore, as given popular expression in Clemens Brentano’s poem “Zu Bacharach am Rheine” (“At Bacharach on the Rhine”) (Bacharach is some distance south of the Loreley rock) and Heinrich Heine’s poem “Die Lorelei” (“The Lorelei”)

myrtle = plants of the family Myrtaceae; including various native Australian plants such as eucalyptus, paperbark, and bottlebrush trees

’neath = beneath

o’er = over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)

Rhine = the Rhine river (Europe)

sooth = (archaic) truth

twain = (archaic) two (from the Old English word “twegen”, meaning “two”); especially known for the phrase “never the twain shall meet” (from the line “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”, as used by the poet Rudyard Kipling, at the start of the poem “The Ballad of East and West”, which was included in Barrack-room Ballads and Other Verses, 1892)

Old spelling in the original text:
hath (has)
thee (you)
thine (your)
thy (your)

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