Beer is ancient, and it seems like many of the great writers of history enjoyed imbibing frequently, taking a deep draught from the wellspring of the fermented grain, inspired by the Muse of Mead, as it were, the Goddess of Grain. I have carefully chose a few, select poems about beer from some truly excellent writers. I hope you enjoy them.
* Note: all poems are in the public domain.
Lines on Ale: Edgar Allen Poe
Filled with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain.
Quaintest thoughts, queerest fancies
Come to life and fade away.
What care I how time advances;
I am drinking ale today.
Beer: George Arnold
With my beer
While golden moments flit:
And, as they fly,
Sit, idly sipping here
O, finer far
Than fame, or riches, are
The graceful smoke-wreathes of this cigar!
Weep, wail, or sigh?
What if luck has passed me by?
What if my hopes are dead,—
My pleasures fled?
Have I not still
Of right good cheer,—
Cigars and beer
Go, whining youth,
Go, weep and wail,
Sigh and grow pale,
Weave melancholy rhymes
On the old times,
Whose joys like shadowy ghosts appear,
But leave me to my beer!
Gold is dross,—
Love is loss,—
So, if I gulp my sorrows down,
Or see them drown
In foamy draughts of old nut-brown,
Then I do wear the crown,
Without the cross!
The Empty Bottle: William Aytoun
Ah, liberty! how like thou art
To this large bottle lying here,
Which yesterday from foreign mart,
Came filled with potent English beer!
A touch of steel — a hand — a gush —
A pop that sounded far and near —
A wild emotion – liquid rush —
And I had drunk that English beer!
And what remains? – An empty shell!
A lifeless form both sad and queer,
A temple where no god doth dwell —
The simple memory of beer!
The Tavern: Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (translated from the Arabic)
All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
And I intend to end up there.
This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
But who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?
Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.
This poetry. I never know what I’m going to say.
I don’t plan it.
When I’m outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.
We have a huge barrel of beer, but no cups.
That’s fine with us. Every morning
We glow and in the evening we glow again.
They say there’s no future for us. They’re right.
Which is fine with us.
Beer: Francis Saltus Saltus
What merry fairy, oh cool, delicious beer,
Gave thee the power through centuries to maintain
A charm that soothes dull care, and laughs at pain;
A power sad hearts to vitalize and cheer?
No blasé palate of thy drops can fear;
Once quaffed, lips eager, seek thy sweets again,
Without thee students sing no loud refrain;
Laughter and mirth depart, be thou not near.
And when I drink thee to my soul’s delight,
A vision of King Gambrinus, fat and gay,
Haunts me, and I behold bright tankards shine,
And hear him laugh with many a thirsty wight,
And merry maiden, drinking night and day,
In quaint, old, gabled towns along the Rhine.
Strong Beer: Robert Graves
“What do you think
The bravest drink
Under the sky?”
“Strong beer,” said I.
“There’s a place for everything,
There’s a place for everything
Where it ought to be:
For a chicken, the hen’s wing;
For poison, the bee’s sting;
For almond-blossom, Spring;
A beerhouse for me.”
“There’s a prize for everyone,
There’s a prize for everyone,
Whoever he may be:
Crags for the mountaineer,
Flags for the Fusilier,
For English poets, beer!
Strong beer for me!”
“Tell us, now, how and when
We may find the bravest men?”
“A sure test, an easy test:
Those that drink beer are the best,
Brown beer strongly brewed,
English drink and English food.”
Oh, never choose as Gideon chose
By the cold well, but rather those
Who look on beer when it is brown,
Smack their lips and gulp it down.
Leave the lads who tamely drink
With Gideon by the water brink,
But search the benches of the Plough,
The Tun, the Sun, the Spotted Cow,
For jolly rascal lads who pray,
Pewter in hand, at close of day,
“Teach me to live that I may fear
The grave as little as my beer.”