Beer Poetry

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Beer, by George Arnold
  2. A Shropshire Lad, by A.E. Housman
  3. Lines on Ale (1848), by Edgar Allen Poe
  4. The Old Stone Cross, by William Butler Yeats
  5. The Glass of Beer, by James Kenneth Stephens
  6. Strong Beer, by Robert Graves
  7. The Workman’s Friend, by Flann O’Brien
  8. The Hour Before Dawn, by William Butler Yeats
  9. A Drunken Man’s Praise Of Sobriety, by William Butler Yeats
  10. Beer, by Charles Stuart Calverley
  11. Drinking Song, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  12. Be Always Drunken, by Charles Baudelaire
  13. Beer Bottle, by Ted Kooser
  14. It Is Later Than You Think, by Robert W. Service
  15. Old English folk song, author unknown
  16. Old Irish Tale, author unknown
  17. New England’s Annoyances, author unknown
  18. Doh, Re Mi, by Homer Simpson
  19. English drinking song, circa 1757
  20. Old Somersetshire English song, author unknown
  21. The Beggar, an old English folk song
  22. Three Jolly Postboys, an 18th century song
  23. A Glass of Beer, by David O’Bruadair
  24. The Pelagian Drinking Song, by Hillaire Belloc
  25. To Be Hungry is to Be Great, by William Carlos Williams
  26. Broetry, by Brian McGackin
  27. Impact, by Brian McGackin
  28. Stopping by Wawa on a Snowy Evening, by Brian McGackin
  29. Get Drunk!, by Charles Baudelaire
  30. The Tavern, by Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
  31. The Empty Bottle, by William Aytoun
  32. The Ex-ale-tation of Ale, an Old English Song
  33. No More Poles, Unknown Author
  34. Picking Hops, by Ethel Lynn Beers
  35. Hops, Oh Wonderful Hops!, Unknown Author
  36. Beer, by Charles Bukowski
  37. I Went into the Maverick Bar, by Gary Snyder
  38. TV, by John Updike
  39. Gammer Gurton’s Needle, by John Still
  40. The Fly, by William Oldys
  41. Hermit Hoar, by Samuel Johnson
  42. John Barleycorn, by Carol Ann Duffy
  43. Hops, by Boris Pasternak
  44. Naming of Hops (2009), by Frank De Canio
  45. Beers, Not Trees, a spoof of Joyce Kilmer’s Trees
  46. A Poem Lovely As A Beer, another spoof of Joyce Kilmer’s Trees, by Steve Hoffman

Beer, by George Arnold (1834 – 1865)

HERE,
With my beer
I sit,
While golden moments flit:

Alas!
They pass
Unheeded by:
And, as they fly,
I,
Being dry,
Sit, idly sipping here
My beer.

O, finer far
Than fame, or riches, are
The graceful smoke-wreathes of this cigar!
Why
Should I
Weep, wail, or sigh?
What if luck has passed me by?
What if my hopes are dead,—
My pleasures fled?
Have I not still
My fill
Of right good cheer,—
Cigars and beer

Go, whining youth,
Forsooth!
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!
 

Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff, poem LXII in A Shropshire Lad (1896), by A.E. Housman (1859 – 1936)

“Terence, this is stupid stuff:
You eat your victuals fast enough;
There can’t be much amiss, ’tis clear,
To see the rate you drink your beer.
But oh, good Lord, the verse you make,
It gives a chap the belly-ache.
The cow, the old cow, she is dead;
It sleeps well, the horned head:
We poor lads, ’tis our turn now
To hear such tunes as killed the cow.
Pretty friendship ’tis to rhyme
Your friends to death before their time
Moping melancholy mad:
Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad.”

Why, if ’tis dancing you would be,
There’s brisker pipes than poetry.
Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
Or why was Burton built on Trent?
Oh many a peer of England brews
Livelier liquor than the Muse,
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God’s ways to man.
Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think:
Look into the pewter pot
To see the world as the world’s not.
And faith, ’tis pleasant till ’tis past:
The mischief is that ’twill not last.
Oh I have been to Ludlow fair
And left my necktie God knows where,
And carried half-way home, or near,
Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
Then the world seemed none so bad,
And I myself a sterling lad;
And down in lovely muck I’ve lain,
Happy till I woke again.
Then I saw the morning sky:
Heigho, the tale was all a lie;
The world, it was the old world yet,
I was I, my things were wet,
And nothing now remained to do
But begin the game anew.

Therefore, since the world has still
Much good, but much less good than ill,
And while the sun and moon endure
Luck’s a chance, but trouble’s sure,
I’d face it as a wise man would,
And train for ill and not for good.
‘Tis true the stuff I bring for sale
Is not so brisk a brew as ale:
Out of a stem that scored the hand
I wrung it in a weary land.
But take it: if the smack is sour,
The better for the embittered hour;
It should do good to heart and head
When your soul is in my soul’s stead;
And I will friend you, if I may,
In the dark and cloudy day.

There was a king reigned in the East:
There, when kings will sit to feast,
They get their fill before they think
With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
He gathered all that springs to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more,
He sampled all her killing store;
And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
Sate the king when healths went round.
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat;
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up:
They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt:
Them it was their poison hurt.
-I tell the tale that I heard told.
Mithridates, he died old.

 

Lines on Ale (1848), by Edgar Allen Poe (1809 – 1849)

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.

 

From The Old Stone Cross, by William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

A statesman is an easy man, he tells his lies by rote.
A journalist invents his lies, and rams them down your throat.
So stay at home and drink your beer and let the neighbors vote.

 

The Glass of Beer, by James Kenneth Stephens (1882 – 1950)

The lanky hank of a she in the inn over there
Nearly killed me for asking the loan of a glass of beer:
May the devil grip the whey-faced slut by the hair
And beat bad manners out of her skin for a year.
That parboiled imp, with the hardest jaw you will ever see
On virtue’s path, and a voice that would rasp the dead,
Came roaring and raging the minute she looked at me,
And threw me out of the house on the back of my head.

If I asked her master he’d give me a cask a day;
But she with the beer at hand, not a gill would arrange!
May she marry a ghost and bear him a kitten and may
The High King of Glory permit her to get the mange.

 

Strong Beer, by Robert Graves (1895 – 1985)

“What do you think
The bravest drink
Under the sky?”
“Strong beer,” said I.

“There’s a place for everything,
Everything, anything,
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 every one
Every one, any one,
There’s a prize for every one,
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.”

 

The Workman’s Friend, by Flann O’Brien (1911 – 1966)

When things go wrong and will not come right,
Though you do the best you can,
When life looks black as the hour of night —
A pint of plain is your only man.

When money’s tight and hard to get
And your horse has also ran,
When all you have is a heap of debt —
A pint of plain is your only man.

When health is bad and your heart feels strange,
And your face is pale and wan,
When doctors say you need a change,
A pint of plain is your only man.

When food is scarce and your larder bare
And no rashers grease your pan,
When hunger grows as your meals are rare —
A pint of plain is your only man.

In time of trouble and lousy strife,
You have still got a darling plan
You still can turn to a brighter life —
A pint of plain is your only man.

 

From The Hour Before Dawn, by William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

A great lad with a beery face
Had tucked himself away beside
A ladle and a tub of beer,
And snored, no phantom by his look.
So with a laugh at his own fear
He crawled into that pleasant nook.
‘Night grows uneasy near the dawn
Till even I sleep light; but who
Has tired of his own company?
What one of Maeve’s nine brawling sons
Sick of his grave has wakened me?
But let him keep his grave for once
That I may find the sleep I have lost.’
What care I if you sleep or wake?
But I’ll have no man call me ghost.’
Say what you please, but from daybreak
I’ll sleep another century.’
And I will talk before I sleep
And drink before I talk.’
And he
Had dipped the wooden ladle deep
Into the sleeper’s tub of beer
Had not the sleeper started up.
Before you have dipped it in the beer
I dragged from Goban’s mountain-top
I’ll have assurance that you are able
To value beer; no half-legged fool
Shall dip his nose into my ladle
Merely for stumbling on this hole
In the bad hour before the dawn.’
Why beer is only beer.’
 

From A Drunken Man’s Praise Of Sobriety, by William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

COME swish around, my pretty punk,
And keep me dancing still
That I may stay a sober man
Although I drink my fill.

Sobriety is a jewel
That I do much adore;
And therefore keep me dancing
Though drunkards lie and snore.
O mind your feet, O mind your feet,
Keep dancing like a wave,
And under every dancer
A dead man in his grave.
No ups and downs, my pretty,
A mermaid, not a punk;
A drunkard is a dead man,
And all dead men are drunk.
 

Beer, by Charles Stuart Calverley (1831-1884)

In those old days which poets say were golden –
(Perhaps they laid the gilding on themselves:
And, if they did, I’m all the more beholden
To those brown dwellers in my dusty shelves,
Who talk to me “in language quaint and olden”
Of gods and demigods and fauns and elves,
Pans with his pipes, and Bacchus with his leopards,
And staid young goddesses who flirt with shepherds:)

In those old days, the Nymph called Etiquette
(Appalling thought to dwell on) was not born.
They had their May, but no Mayfair as yet,
No fashions varying as the hues of morn.
Just as they pleased they dressed and drank and ate,
Sang hymns to Ceres (their John Barleycorn)
And danced unchaperoned, and laughed unchecked,
And were no doubt extremely incorrect.

Yet do I think their theory was pleasant:
And oft, I own, my ‘wayward fancy roams’
Back to those times, so different from the present;
When no one smoked cigars, nor gave At-homes,
Nor smote a billiard-ball, nor winged a pheasant,
Nor ‘did’ their hair by means of long-tailed combs,
Nor migrated to Brighton once a-year,
Nor – most astonishing of all – drank Beer.

No, they did not drink Beer, “which brings me to”
(As Gilpin said) “the middle of my song.”
Not that “the middle” is precisely true,
Or else I should not tax your patience long:
If I had said ‘beginning,’ it might do;
But I have a dislike to quoting wrong:
I was unlucky – sinned against, not sinning –
When Cowper wrote down ‘middle’ for ‘beginning.’

So to proceed. That abstinence from Malt
Has always struck me as extremely curious.
The Greek mind must have had some vital fault,
That they should stick to liquors so injurious –
(Wine, water, tempered p’raps with Attic salt) –
And not at once invent that mild, luxurious,
And artful beverage, Beer. How the digestion
Got on without it, is a startling question.

Had they digestions? and an actual body
Such as dyspepsia might make attacks on?
Were they abstract ideas – (like Tom Noddy
And Mr. Briggs) – or men, like Jones and Jackson?
Then Nectar – was that beer, or whiskey-toddy?
Some say the Gaelic mixture, I the Saxon:
I think a strict adherence to the latter
Might make some Scots less pigheaded, and fatter.

Besides, Bon Gaultier definitely shews
That the real beverage for feasting gods on
Is a soft compound, grateful to the nose
And also to the palate, known as ‘Hodgson.’
I know a man – a tailor’s son – who rose
To be a peer: and this I would lay odds on,
(Though in his Memoirs it may not appear,)
That that man owed his rise to copious Beer.

O Beer! O Hodgson, Guinness, Allsop, Bass!
Names that should be on every infant’s tongue!
Shall days and months and years and centuries pass,
And still your merits be unrecked, unsung?
Oh! I have gazed into my foaming glass,
And wished that lyre could yet again be strung
Which once rang prophet-like through Greece, and taught her
Misguided sons that “the best drink was water.”

How would he now recant that wild opinion,
And sing – as would that I could sing – of you!
I was not born (alas!) the “Muses’ minion,”
I’m not poetical, not even blue:
And he (we know) but strives with waxen pinion,
Whoe’er he is that entertains the view
Of emulating Pindar, and will be
Sponsor at last to some now nameless sea.

Oh! when the green slopes of Arcadia burned
With all the lustre of the dying day,
And on Cithaeron’s brow the reaper turned,
(Humming, of course, in his delightful way,
How Lycidas was dead, and how concerned
The Nymphs were when they saw his lifeless clay;
And how rock told to rock the dreadful story
That poor young Lycidas was gone to glory:)

What would that lone and labouring soul have given,
At that soft moment, for a pewter pot!
How had the mists that dimmed his eye been riven,
And Lycidas and sorrow all forgot!
If his own grandmother had died unshriven,
In two short seconds he’d have recked it not;
Such power hath Beer. The heart which Grief hath canker’d
Hath one unfailing remedy – the Tankard.

Coffee is good, and so no doubt is cocoa;
Tea did for Johnson and the Chinamen:
When ‘Dulce et desipere in loco’
Was written, real Falernian winged the pen.
When a rapt audience has encored ‘Fra Poco’
Or ‘Casta Diva,’ I have heard that then
The Prima Donna, smiling herself out,
Recruits her flagging powers with bottled stout.

But what is coffee, but a noxious berry,
Born to keep used-up Londoners awake?
What is Falernian, what is Port or Sherry,
But vile concoctions to make dull heads ache?
Nay stout itself – (though good with oysters, very) –
Is not a thing your reading man should take.
He that would shine, and petrify his tutor,
Should drink draught Allsop in its “native pewter.”

But hark! a sound is stealing on my ear –
A soft and silvery sound – I know it well.
Its tinkling tells me that a time is near
Precious to me – it is the Dinner Bell.
O blessed Bell! Thou bringest beef and beer,
Thou bringest good things more than tongue may tell:
Seared is (of course) my heart – but unsubdued
Is, and shall be, my appetite for food.

I go. Untaught and feeble is my pen:
But on one statement I may safely venture;
That few of our most highly gifted men
Have more appreciation of the trencher.
I go. One pound of British beef, and then
What Mr. Swiveller called a “modest quencher;”
That home-returning, I may ‘soothly say,’
“Fate cannot touch me: I have dined to-day.”

From “Verses And Translations” (1865)
 

Drinking Song, by by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882)

Come, old friend! sit down and listen!
From the pitcher, placed between us,
How the waters laugh and glisten
In the head of old Silenus!

Old Silenus, bloated, drunken,
Led by his inebriate Satyrs;
On his breast his head is sunken,
Vacantly he leers and chatters.

Fauns with youthful Bacchus follow;
Ivy crowns that brow supernal
As the forehead of Apollo,
And possessing youth eternal.

Round about him, fair Bacchantes,
Bearing cymbals, flutes, and thyrses,
Wild from Naxian groves, or Zante’s
Vineyards, sing delirious verses.

Thus he won, through all the nations,
Bloodless victories, and the farmer
Bore, as trophies and oblations,
Vines for banners, ploughs for armor.

Judged by no o’erzealous rigor,
Much this mystic throng expresses:
Bacchus was the type of vigor,
And Silenus of excesses.

These are ancient ethnic revels,
Of a faith long since forsaken;
Now the Satyrs, changed to devils,
Frighten mortals wine-o’ertaken.

Now to rivulets from the mountains
Point the rods of fortune-tellers;
Youth perpetual dwells in fountains,–
Not in flasks, and casks, and cellars.

Claudius, though he sang of flagons
And huge tankards filled with Rhenish,
From that fiery blood of dragons
Never would his own replenish.

Even Redi, though he chaunted
Bacchus in the Tuscan valleys,
Never drank the wine he vaunted
In his dithyrambic sallies.

Then with water fill the pitcher
Wreathed about with classic fables;
Ne’er Falernian threw a richer
Light upon Lucullus’ tables.

Come, old friend, sit down and listen
As it passes thus between us,
How its wavelets laugh and glisten
In the head of old Silenus!
 

Be Always Drunken, by Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)

Be always drunken.
Nothing else matters:
that is the only question.
If you would not feel
          the horrible burden of Time
          weighing on your shoulders
          and crushing you to the earth,
be drunken continually.

Drunken with what?
With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will.
But be drunken.

And if sometimes,
          on the stairs of a palace,
          or on the green side of a ditch,
          or in the dreary solitude of your own room,
you should awaken
and the drunkenness be half or wholly slipped away from you,
ask of the wind,
          or of the wave,
          or of the star,
          or of the bird,
          or of the clock,
          of whatever flies,
                    or sighs,
                    or rocks,
                    or sings,
                    or speaks,
ask what hour it is;
and the wind,
          wave,
          star,
          bird,
          clock will answer you:
“It is the hour to be drunken!”

“Be drunken,
if you would not be martyred slaves of Time;
be drunken continually!
With wine,
with poetry,
or with virtue,
as you will.”

Translated by Symons and quoted by Eugene O’Neill (in Long Day’s Journey into Night)
 

Beer Bottle, by Ted Kooser (1939 – )

In the burned-
out highway
ditch the throw-

away beer
bottle lands
standing up

unbroken,
like a cat
thrown off

of a roof
to kill it,
landing hard

and dazzled
in the sun
right side up;

sort of a
miracle.
 

It Is Later Than You Think, by Robert W. Service (1874 – 1958)

Lone amid the café’s cheer,
Sad of heart am I to-night;
Dolefully I drink my beer,
But no single line I write.
There’s the wretched rent to pay,
Yet I glower at pen and ink:
Oh, inspire me, Muse, I pray,
It is later than you think!

Hello! there’s a pregnant phrase.
Bravo! let me write it down;
Hold it with a hopeful gaze,
Gauge it with a fretful frown;
Tune it to my lyric lyre …
Ah! upon starvation’s brink,
How the words are dark and dire:
It is later than you think.

Weigh them well …. Behold yon band,
Students drinking by the door,
Madly merry, bock in hand,
Saucers stacked to mark their score.
Get you gone, you jolly scamps;
Let your parting glasses clink;
Seek your long neglected lamps:
It is later than you think.

Look again: yon dainty blonde,
All allure and golden grace,
Oh so willing to respond
Should you turn a smiling face.
Play your part, poor pretty doll;
Feast and frolic, pose and prink;
There’s the Morgue to end it all,
And it’s later than you think.

Yon’s a playwright — mark his face,
Puffed and purple, tense and tired;
Pasha-like he holds his place,
Hated, envied and admired.
How you gobble life, my friend;
Wine, and woman soft and pink!
Well, each tether has its end:
Sir, it’s later than you think.

See yon living scarecrow pass
With a wild and wolfish stare
At each empty absinthe glass,
As if he saw Heaven there.
Poor damned wretch, to end your pain
There is still the Greater Drink.
Yonder waits the sanguine Seine …
It is later than you think.

Lastly, you who read; aye, you
Who this very line may scan:
Think of all you planned to do …
Have you done the best you can?
See! the tavern lights are low;
Black’s the night, and how you shrink!
God! and is it time to go?
Ah! the clock is always slow;
It is later than you think;
Sadly later than you think;
Far, far later than you think.
 

Old English folk song, author unknown

Three jolly coachmen
sat in a Bristol Tavern,
and they decided,
to have another flagon.

Landlord fill the flowing bowl,
until it doth run over.
For tonight we’ll merry, merry be.
Tomorrow we’ll be sober.

Here’s to the man who drinks small beer,
and goes to bed quite sober.
Fades as the leaves do fade,
and drop off in October.

Here’s to the man who drinks strong ale,
and goes to bed quite mellow.
Lives as he ought to live,
and dies a jolly good fellow

Here’s to the girl who steals a kiss,
and runs to tell her mother.
She’s a very foolish thing.
She’ll never get another.

Here’s to the girl who steals a kiss,
and runs back for another.
She’s a boon to all mankind.
Very soon she’ll be a mother.

If I had another brick,
I’d build by chimney higher.
It would stop my neighbour’s cat,
from pissing on my fire.

Come, into the garden Maude,
and don’t be so particular.
If the grass is cold and damp,
We’ll do it perpendicular.

Landlord fill the flowing bowl,
until it doth run over.
For tonight we’ll merry, merry be.
Tomorrow we’re Hungover.
 

Old Irish Tale, author unknown

Some Guinness was spilt on the barroom floor
When the pub was shut for the night.
When out of his hole crept a wee brown mouse
And stood in the pale moonlight.

He lapped up the frothy foam from the floor
Then back on his haunches he sat.
And all night long, you could hear the mouse roar,
“Bring on the goddamn cat!”
 

From New England’s Annoyances, American folk song, 1643

Instead of pottage and puddings and custards and pies,
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies;
We have pumpkin at morning and pumpkin at noon;
If it was not for pumpkins we should be undone

Hey down, down, hey down derry down.

If barley be wanting to make into malt
We must be contented and think it no fault
For we can make liquor, to sweeten our lips,
Of pumpkins and parsnips and walnut-tree chips.
 

Doh, Re, Me, by Homer Simpson

Dough, the stuff that buys me beer.
Ray, the guy who brings me beer.
Me, the guy who drinks the beer.
Far, a long way to get beer.
So, I’ll have another beer.
La, I’ll have another beer.
Tea, no thanks I’m having beer.
That will bring us back to…
(reaching the crescendo of his toast,
Homer looks into his beer mug,
which is empty) …DOH!!!
 

English drinking song, circa 1757

Let us sing our own treasures, Old England’s good cheer,
To the profits and pleasures of stout British beer;
Your wine tippling, dram sipping fellows retreat,
But your beer drinking Britons can never be beat.
The French with their vineyards and meager pale ale,
They drink from the squeezing of half ripe fruit;
But we, who have hop-yards to mellow our ale,
Are rosy and plump and have freedom to boot.
 

Old Somersetshire English song

Why, we’ll smoke and drink our beer.
For I like a drop of good beer, I does.
I’ze fond of good beer, I is.
Let gentlemen fine sit down to their wine.
But we’ll all of us here stick to our beer.
 

The Beggar, an old English folk song

Let the back and sides go bare, my boys,
Let the hands and the feet gang cold;
But give to belly, boys, beer enough,
Whether it be new or old.
 

Three Jolly Postboys, an 18th century song

Landlord fill the flowing bowl
Until it doth run over;
For to-night we’ll merry be
To-morrow we’ll be sober.
 

A Glass of Beer, by David O’Bruadair (1625 – 1698)

The lanky hank of a she in the inn over there
Nearly killed me for asking the loan of a glass of beer;
May the devil grip the whey-faced slut by the hair,
And beat bad manners out of her skin for a year.

That parboiled ape, with the toughest jaw you will see
On virtue’s path, and a voice that would rasp the dead,
Came roaring and raging the minute she looked at me,
And threw me out of the house on the back of my head!

If I asked her master he’d give me a cask a day;
But she, with the beer at hand, not a gill would arrange!
May she marry a ghost and bear him a kitten, and may
The High King of Glory permit her to get the mange.
 

The Pelagian Drinking Song, by Hillaire Belloc (1870 – 1953)

Pelagius lived at Kardanoel
And taught a doctrine there
How, whether you went to heaven or to hell
It was your own affair.
It had nothing to do with the Church, my boy,
But was your own affair.

No, he didn’t believe
In Adam and Eve
He put no faith therein!
His doubts began
With the Fall of Man
And he laughed at Original Sin.
With my row-ti-tow
Ti-oodly-ow
He laughed at original sin.

Then came the bishop of old Auxerre
Germanus was his name
He tore great handfuls out of his hair
And he called Pelagius shame.
And with his stout Episcopal staff
So thoroughly whacked and banged
The heretics all, both short and tall —
They rather had been hanged.

Oh he whacked them hard, and he banged them long
Upon each and all occasions
Till they bellowed in chorus, loud and strong
Their orthodox persuasions.
With my row-ti-tow
Ti-oodly-ow
Their orthodox persuasions.

Now the faith is old and the Devil bold
Exceedingly bold indeed.
And the masses of doubt that are floating about
Would smother a mortal creed.
But we that sit in a sturdy youth
And still can drink strong ale
Let us put it away to infallible truth
That always shall prevail.

And thank the Lord
For the temporal sword
And howling heretics too.
And all good things
Our Christendom brings
But especially barley brew!
With my row-ti-tow
Ti-oodly-ow
Especially barley brew!
 

To Be Hungry is to Be Great, by William Carlos Williams (1883 – 1963)

The small, yellow grass-onion,
spring’s first green, precursor
to Manhattan’s pavements, when
plucked as it comes, in bunches,
washed, split and fried in
a pan, though inclined to be
a little slimy, if well cooked
and served hot on rye bread
is to beer a perfect appetizer——
and the best part
of it is they grow everywhere.
 

Broetry, by Brian McGackin (1985 – )

I have finished
the beer
that was in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for Friday

Forgive me
this girl came over
so sweet
and so hot
 

Impact, by Brian McGackin (1985 – )

I go to drink beer,
lots of beer,
and I go to eat
chicken fingers,
and most likely
mozzarella sticks,
and maybe wings
if someone else
orders wings;
I go to spend money;
because
it is Sunday
it is fall,
it is football.
 

Stopping by Wawa on a Snowy Evening, by Brian McGackin (1985 – )

Is Wawa open? Yes or no?
We need to stop if it’s not closed
To stock up for the party. Shit!
But Wawa doesn’t sell beer, though.

I’m such an ass. I must admit
I’d completely forgotten it:
Convenience stores don’t sell booze here.
Now how the hell will we get lit?

We’ve only got two racks of beer
And one bottle of Everclear;
That’s just enough for maybe three
Or four of us. It would appear

That some of us will have to be
Spending the night alcohol-free.
I guess I’ll drink lemonade tea,
I guess I’ll drink lemonade tea.
 

Get Drunk!, by Charles Baudelaire (1821 – 1867)

Always be drunk.
That’s it!
The great imperative!
In order not to feel
Time’s horrid fardel
bruise your shoulders,
grinding you into the earth,
Get drunk and stay that way.
On what?
On beer, poetry, virtue, whatever.
But get drunk.
And if you sometimes happen to wake up
on the porches of a palace,
in the green grass of a ditch,
in the dismal loneliness of your own room,
your drunkenness gone or disappearing,
ask the wind,
the wave,
the star,
the bird,
the clock,
ask everything that flees,
everything that groans
or rolls
or sings,
everything that speaks,
ask what time it is;
and the wind,
the wave,
the star,
the bird,
the clock
will answer you:
“Time to get drunk!
Don’t be martyred slaves of Time,
Get drunk!
Stay drunk!
On beer, virtue, poetry, whatever!”
 

The Tavern, by Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207 – 1273)

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.
 

The Empty Bottle, by William Aytoun (1813 – 1865)

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 Ex-ale-tation of Ale, an Old English Song

But now, so they say, beer bears it away,
The more is the pity, if right might prevail;
For with this same beer came in heresy here,
The old Catholic drink
is a good pot of ale.

And physic will favour ale as it’s bound,
And be against beer both tooth and nail;
They send up and down, all over the town,
To get for their patients a pot of good ale.

Their aleberries, cawdles, and possets each one,
And syllabubs made at the milking pail,
Although they be many, beer comes not in any,
But all are composed with a pot of good ale;

And in very deed, the hop’s but a weed,
Brought over ‘gainst law, and here set to sale ;
Would the law were removed, and no more beer brewed,
But all good men betake them to a pot of good ale.

But to speak of killing, of that I’m not willing,
For that, in a manner, were but to rail;
But beer hath its name ’cause it brings to the bier,
Therefore welfare, say I, to a pot of good ale.

Too many, I wis, with their death proved this,
And, therefore (if ancient records do not fail),
He that first brewed with hop was rewarded with a rope,
And found his beer far more bitter than ale,” etc., etc.
 

No More Poles, unknown author, published in the Ludgate Monthly:
Hops and Hop-pickers (November 1891)

Give over work. The cry in hop-gardens when the pickers are to cease working.
        “When the sun set, the cry of ‘No more poles’ resounded, and the work of the day was done.”
 

Picking Hops, by Ethel Lynn Beers (1827 – 1879)

ON the hills of old Otsego,
By her brightly gleaming lake,
Where the sound of horn and hunter
Sylvan echoes love to wake,
Where the wreaths of twining verdure
Clamber to the saplings’ tops,
I sat beside sweet Minnie Wilder
In the great field picking hops.

Then the clusters green and golden
Binding in her sunny hair,
Half afraid, yet very earnest,
Looking in her face so fair;
Speaking low, while Squire Von Lager
Talked of past and coming crops,
Said I, “Minnie, should a soldier
Stay at home here, picking hops?

“While the country, torn asunder,
Calls for men like me to fight,
And the voice of patriots pleading
Asks for hands to guard the right;
While from hearts of heroes slaughtered
Still the life-blood slowly drops,
Can I—shall I stay beside you,
Minnie darling, picking hops?”

Very pale the cheek was growing,
And the hand I held was cold;

But the eye was bright and glowing,
While my troubled thought was told;
Yet her voice was clear and steady,
Without sigh, or tear, or stops,
When she answered, speaking quickly,
“‘Tis women’s work, this picking hops.

“Men should be where duty calls them—
Women stay at home and pray
For the gallant absent soldier,
Proud to know he would not stay.”
“Bravely spoken, darling Minnie!”
Then I kissed her golden locks,
Breathed anew a soldier’s promise,
As we sat there picking hops.

“Now I go away to-morrow,
And I’ll dare to do or die,
Win a leader s straps and sword, love,
Or ‘mid fallen heroes lie.
Then, when all of earth is fading,
And the fluttering life-pulse stops,
Still, ‘mid thoughts of home and heaven,
I’ll remember picking hops.”
 

Hops, Oh Wonderful Hops!, unknown author, published online by the Seattlest (September 2007)

Hops, hops, oh wonderful hops
For you, our passion is true.
You flavor our beer
And at least once a year
We grind you up in a brew.

Your oils are essential
Your qualities diverse.
But, drink too much nectar
And our stomach might burst.

Hops are the gem
And the barkeepers friend
For keeping us stuck on that stool.
Cause if we order a beer
And the aroma is clear
With no citrus or spice to declare.
We’ll throw it right back
On the bartender’s lap
Then we’ll get ourselves out of that chair.

Cascade! Chinook! Amarillo!
These are our favorite cheers.
For without these friends
We’d rather have the bends.
Our life would be moot
Things just wouldn’t compute!

Not all might agree
But they will after three
Of our favorite hop bombs and brews
So go get some beer
There are some good ones we hear!
Just make sure that the hops do come through.
 

Beer, by Charles Bukowski, from Love is A Mad Dog From Hell (1920 – 1994)

I don’t know how many bottles of beer
I have consumed while waiting for things
to get better
I don’t know how much wine and whisky
and beer
mostly beer
I have consumed after
splits with women—
waiting for the phone to ring
waiting for the sound of footsteps,
and the phone to ring
waiting for the sounds of footsteps,
and the phone never rings
until much later
and the footsteps never arrive
until much later
when my stomach is coming up
out of my mouth
they arrive as fresh as spring flowers:
“what the hell have you done to yourself?
it will be 3 days before you can fuck me!”

the female is durable
she lives seven and one half years longer
than the male, and she drinks very little beer
because she knows it’s bad for the figure.

while we are going mad
they are out
dancing and laughing
with horny cowboys.

well, there’s beer
sacks and sacks of empty beer bottles
and when you pick one up
the bottle fall through the wet bottom
of the paper sack
rolling
clanking
spilling gray wet ash
and stale beer,
or the sacks fall over at 4 a.m.
in the morning
making the only sound in your life.

beer
rivers and seas of beer
the radio singing love songs
as the phone remains silent
and the walls stand
straight up and down
and beer is all there is.
 

I Went into the Maverick Bar, by Gary Snyder (1930 – )

            
I went into the Maverick Bar
In Farmington, New Mexico.
And drank double shots of bourbon
            backed with beer.
My long hair was tucked up under a cap
I’d left the earring in the car.

Two cowboys did horseplay
            by the pool tables,
A waitress asked us
            where are you from?
a country-and-western band began to play
“We don’t smoke Marijuana in Muskokie”
And with the next song,
            a couple began to dance.

They held each other like in High School dances
            in the fifties;
I recalled when I worked in the woods
            and the bars of Madras, Oregon.
That short-haired joy and roughness—
            America—your stupidity.
I could almost love you again.

We left—onto the freeway shoulders—
            under the tough old stars—
In the shadow of bluffs
            I came back to myself,
To the real work, to
            “What is to be done.”
 

TV, by John Updike (1932-2009)

As if it were a tap I turn it on,
not hot or cold but tepid infotainment,
and out it gushes, sparkling evidence
of conflict, misery, concupiscence
let loose on little leashes, in remissions
of eager advertising that envisions
on our behalf the better life contingent
upon some buy, some needful acquisition.

A sleek car takes a curve in purring rain,
a bone-white beach plays host to lotioned skin,
a diaper soothes a graying beauty’s frown,
an unguent eases sedentary pain,
false teeth are brightened, beer enhances fun,
and rinsed hair hurls its tint across the screen:
these spurts of light are drunk in by my brain,
which sickens quickly, till it thirst again.
 

from Gammer Gurton’s Needle, by John Still (1575)

Back and side go bare, go bare;
Both foot and hand go cold;
But, belly, God send thee good ale enough,
Whether it be new or old.

The Fly, by William Oldys (1696-1761)

Busy, curious, thirsty fly,
Drink with me, and drink as I.
On a Fly drinking out of a Cup of Ale

Hermit Hoar, by Samuel Johnson

Hermit hoar, in solemn cell,
Wearing out life’s evening gray;
Smite thy bosom, sage, and tell,
What is bliss, and which the way?
Thus I spoke; and speaking sigh’ed;
Scarce repressed a starting tear;
When the smiling sage reply’d
Come, my lad, and drink some beer.

John Barleycorn, by Carol Ann Duffy

Although I knew they’d laid him low, thrashed him, hung him out to dry,
Had tortured him with water and with fire, then dashed his brains out on a stone,
I saw him in the Seven Stars, and in the Plough.
I saw him in the Crescent Moon and in the Beehive.
In the Barley Mow, my Green Man, newly born, alive, John Barleycorn.

I saw him seasonally, at harvest time, in the Wheatsheaf and the Load of Hay,
I saw him, heard his laughter in the Star and Garter and the Fountain and the Bell,
The Corn Dolly, the Woolpack and the Flowing Spring.
I saw him in the Rising Sun, the Moon and Sixpence and the Evening Star.
I saw him in the Rose and Crown, my Green Man, ancient, barely born, John Barleycorn.

He moved through Britain, bright and dark, like ale in glass.
I saw him run across the fields, towards the Gamekeeper, the Poacher and the Blacksmith’s Arms.
He knew the Ram, the Lamb, the Lion and the Swan,
White Hart, Blue Bull, Red Dragon, Fox and Hounds.
I saw him in the Three Goats’ Heads, the Black Bull and Dun Cow, Shoulder of Mutton, Griffin, Unicorn.
Green Man, beer-born, good health, long life, John Barleycorn.

I saw him festively, when people sang for victory, for love and New Year’s Eve,
In the Raven and the Bird in Hand, the Golden Eagle, the Kingfisher, the Dove.
I saw him grieve and mourn, a shadow at the bar, in the Falcon, the Marsh Harrier,
The Sparrowhawk, the Barn Owl, Cuckoo, Heron, Nightingale.
A pint of bitter in the Jenny Wren for my Green Man, alone, forlorn, John Barleycorn.

Britain’s soul, as the crow flies, so flew he.
I saw him in the Holly Bush, the Yew Tree, the Royal Oak, the Ivy Bush, the Linden.
I saw him in the Forester, the Woodman.
He history: I saw him in the Wellington, the Nelson, Marquis of Granby, Wicked Lady, Bishop’s Finger.
I saw him in the Ship, the Golden Fleece, the Flask
The Railway Inn, the Robin Hood and Little John.
My Green Man, legend-strong, reborn, John Barleycorn.

Scythed down, he crawled, knelt, stood.
I saw him in the Crow, Newt, Stag, all weathers, noon or night.
I saw him in the Feathers, Salutation, Navigation, Knot, the Bricklayer’s Arms, Hop Inn, the Maypole and the Regiment, the Horse and Groom, the Dog and Duck, the Flag.
And where he supped the past lived still.
And where he sipped the glass brimmed full.
He was in the King’s Head and Queen’s Arms. I saw him there:
Green Man, well-born, spellbound, charming one, John Barleycorn.

Hops, by Boris Pasternak (1890 – 1960)

Beneath the willow wound round with ivy
we take cover from the worst
of the storm, with a greatcoat round
our shoulders and my hands around your waist.

I’ve got it wrong. That isn’t ivy
entwined in the bushes round
the wood, but hops. You intoxicate me!
Let’s spread the greatcoat on the ground.
 

Naming the Hops, by Frank De Canio (July 30, 2009)

Today there will be naming of hops.
Today they’ll have a beer outside
the oval office of the White House.
Likewise our planet rotates with an oval orbit
around the sun of no determinate God,
whose purity and innocence informs
the white bars on the American flag.
Today President Obama, Professor Gates
and Officer Crowley will have a beer
without discriminatory roots.
Vice-President Biden will grab a Buckler
and ward off journalistic gibes.
The President will have a Bud Lite.
Just so, cherry blossoms bud lightly near
the President’s office, and all around
the grounds of the White House.
And today there will be naming of hops.
The professor wanted a Red Stripe.
Indeed red stripes emblazon the American flag
with the hardiness and valor of patriots
who fought to make this country free,
with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.
But, fermenting, with true revolutionary fervor,
he settled on a Boston-based Samuel Adams.
So today there will be naming of hops.
And four men will bond with beer outside the oval office.
The officer in blue will have a Blue Moon.
Indeed blue is the color of justice, perseverance
and vigilance; and upon this cerulean hue,
the stars representing our states are fixed,
as in the celestial spheres. It’s the color
of sad, chromatic notes, flat as the moon
rising over the jazzy circuits that light
the music scenes of America like dancing stars.
For today there will be naming of hops,
fermented in a brew of friendship and hope.
 

Beers, a spoof of Joyce Kilmer’s Trees (1886 – 1918)

I THINK that I shall never hear
A poem lovely as a beer.
A brew that’s best straight from a tap
With golden hue and snowy cap;
The liquid bread I drink all day,
Until my memory melts away;
A beer that’s made with summer malt
Too little hops its only fault;
Upon whose brow the yeast has lain;
In water clear as falling rain.
Poems are made by fools I fear,
But only wort can make a beer.
 

Here’s the original poem:

I THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
 

A Poem Lovely As A Beer, by Steve Hoffman, another spoof of Joyce Kilmer’s Trees (1886 – 1918)

I think that I shall never hear,
A poem lovely as a beer.
A beer whose frothy mug is pressed,
Against my mouth like a flowing breast;
A beer that bathes in a keg all day,
With bittersweet nectar for which I pray;
A beer my throat in Summer quench,
Served on a tray by a busty wench;
When the empty mug on the counter is lain;
Refill it quickly with the fruit of the grain.
Poems are written by beer drinkers like me,
So order ‘nother round while I take a pee.
 


More Links To Beer Poetry Collections

Longer Single Poems Mentioning Beer

Drinking Poems, Not Necessarily About Beer

A Drinking Song, by William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

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.

 

The Parting Glass, a traditional Irish/Scottish song, possibly written by Sir Alex Boswell (c. 1600-1700s)

Of all the money e’er I had,
I spent it in good company.
And all the harm e’er I’ve done,
Alas! it was to none but me.
And all I’ve done for want of wit
To mem’ry now I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all.

Oh, all the comrades e’er I had,
They’re sorry for my going away,
And all the sweethearts e’er I had,
They’d wish me one more day to stay,
But since it falls unto my lot,
That I should rise and you should not,
I gently rise and softly call,
Good night and joy be with you all.