Ballantine’s Literary Ads: Ernest Hemingway

ballantine
Between 1951 and 1953, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company, or simply Ballentine Beer, created a series of ads with at least thirteen different writers. They asked each one “How would you put a glass of Ballantine Ale into words?” Each author wrote a page that included reference to their beer, and in most cases not subtly. One of them was Ernest Hemingway, who wrote several memorable novels, such as the The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea.

Today is the birthday of Ernest Hemingway (July 17, 1899–July 2, 1961). He “was an American novelist, short story writer, and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works. Additional works, including three novels, four short story collections, and three non-fiction works, were published posthumously. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature.” His Ballantine ad ran in 1952.

Hemingway NYT Ballantines

His piece for Ballantine was done in the form of a letter on fishing, written from Cuba:

Bob Benchley first introduced me to Ballantine Ale. It has been a good companion ever since.

You have to work hard to deserve to drink it. But I would rather have a bottle of Ballantine Ale than any other drink after fighting a really big fish.

We keep it iced in the bait box with chunks of ice packed around it. And you ought to taste it on a hot day when you have worked a big marlin fast because there were sharks after him.

You are tired all the way through. The fish is landed untouched by sharks and you have a bottle of Ballantine cold in your hand and drink it cool, light, and full-bodied, so it tastes good long after you have swallowed it. That’s the test of an ale with me: whether it tastes as good afterwards as when it’s going down. Ballantine does.

ballantine-1952-Hemingway-text

Ballantine’s Literary Ads: Erle Stanley Gardner

ballantine
Between 1951 and 1953, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company, or simply Ballentine Beer, created a series of ads with at least thirteen different writers. They asked each one “How would you put a glass of Ballantine Ale into words?” Each author wrote a page that included reference to their beer, and in most cases not subtly. One of them was Erle Stanley Gardner, whose most well-known character was Perry Mason.

Today is the birthday of Erle Stanley Gardner (July 17, 1889–March 11, 1970). He “was an American lawyer and author. Though best known for the Perry Mason series of detective stories, he wrote numerous other novels and shorter pieces, as well as a series of non-fiction books, mostly narrations of his travels through Baja California and other regions in Mexico.” His Ballantine ad ran in 1952.

ballantine-1952-Gardner

His piece for Ballantine was done in the form of a Perry Mason script, written on his personal stationary from his home in Temecula, California:

If you are calling upon me to put a glass of Ballantine Ale into words, I’m inclined to retain Perry Mason to state the case for me:


Mr. Mason:

“We offer in evidence this green bottle containing an amber beverage, bearing the famous three-ring label.

“We propose to prove that the content of this bottle is accepted as the nation’s outstanding ale, from the standpoint of purity, body and flavor.

“In fact, your Honor, we contend that Ballantine Ale begins where other brews leave off! And the whole country knows it.”

The District Attorney:

“I object. How can you prove that the whole country knows it?”

Mr. Mason:

“That fact already has been proved, your Honor. Ballantine Ale is America’s largest-selling ale … outsells any other 4 to 1!

“And, if the Court please, may I suggest that the Court try a glass of Ballantine Ale? And when you do, may it please the Court!”


At this point, Mr. Mason and I rest our case.

ballantine-1952-Gardner-text

This one is definitely one of the cheesier ones in the series. I’ll feature the rest on their respective authors’ birthdays throughout the year.

Chasing Utopia(s)

utopias
Today is the birthday of poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator Nikki Giovanni. She’s currently an English professor at Virginia Tech, and has authored over twenty collections of poetry, children’s books, and many other works. She isn’t much of a beer drinker, sad to say. But her mother apparently was, and that’s what she wrote a story about: honoring her mother by searching out what she believed was one of the best beers around, Samuel Adams’ Utopia [sic].

nikki-giovanni

Curiously, even though her story was printed in a prominent magazine and then later collected into a book, meaning editors and copy people presumably poured over it, nobody noticed that Utopia was not the actual name of the beer that was so central to the story. The actual name of the beer, of course, is Utopias. It’s possible it was by design, and I can see a scenario where the “s” was left off to give the phrase “chasing utopia” more meaning. That gaffe aside — if indeed it was one — it’s still an interesting story.

When Giovanni’s mother passed away, Nikki Giovanni decided drinking wine, which she preferred, wouldn’t do. But she also didn’t think that the pedestrian beers that her mother favored wouldn’t quite pay the proper respect, and she decided to find out what was the best beer in the world, and decided for her purposes that it was Utopias, and then wrote about the experience of trying to find a bottle for the July 2011 issue of Poetry Magazine.

Michel Martin interviewed Nikki Giovanni on NPR in early 2014, about her new book, and the Chasing Utopia story:

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: We start today with the award-winning writer Nikki Giovanni. She’s one of the best-known and most celebrated poets of our time. She’s known for her accessible and beautiful writing about home, family, friends and even food. Nikki Giovanni is the university distinguished professor of English at Virginia Tech. She’s also the author of 28 books. Her latest “Chasing Utopia” is a combination of essays and poetry. I spoke with her when the book was first published last year, and she began by telling me how she chose the title “Chasing Utopia.”

NIKKI GIOVANNI: Well, it really is that my mom died now in 2005. And so it’s been a while, but, you know, losing your mother, even though it’s the right order of things, is sad. I was a mother’s child. And I stayed very, very sad. And I finally said, you know, Nikki, you have to get out of this. And mommy, every day — we knew that mommy was dying when she said no she didn’t want a beer because every day of her life, she drank a beer. And so I said to myself, well, I’m missing mommy, why don’t I have a beer? But I really — I hate to say it, Michel, I just don’t like beer. And so it was like, OK, if you’re going to drink a beer, then you ought to drink the number one beer in the world. So I went and looked it up. Well, it turns out it’s Utopias, which is actually a beer by Sam Adams. So I called a man at my local store, Keith (ph), and he said, Nikki, we never get Utopias. You know, we’re a small market, they never sell us any Utopias. Well, I started to do what I do when things don’t go well. I just started to complain. You know, everybody starts going – why can’t I find a Utopias? And I happened to be on NPR actually, and the guy who makes Utopias heard it. And he actually sent it to me. But in the meantime, I had been to a government agency. I’ve been every place, you know, and everybody was like, oh, you’ll find utopia. And I was like, no, it’s a beer for Christ’s sake. So it’s been really fun learning about beers, and it makes me smile because I think of my mother. And I know that she’s sitting in heaven, you know, kicking back. She’s a Bud Light person.

MARTIN: She’s a Bud Light — not even a Utopias? What?

GIOVANNI: No. She couldn’t afford Utopias.

MARTIN: Maybe her tastes will change in heaven. Would your mom have enjoyed Utopia, or would that be too rich for her blood?

GIOVANNI: Oh, no. Mommy would’ve enjoyed it. Mommy enjoyed anything. But, you know, I could take my mother a glass of water and she would – and that’s what I loved about her. She would like, oh, I’ve never had water this good. What did you do to the water? You know, my mother always made me feel incredibly competent. And I don’t think anybody else has taken that place in my life actually.

A press shot of the Utopias

Here’s the story itself, from the Poetry Foundation website:

Thanks to social networking, G.K. Chesterton’s remark that “poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese” has recently been given wide, if undeserved, circulation; anyone who consults the Poetry Foundation’s online poetry archive will find his claim not to be true. Hoping to disprove any larger point he may have been making, however, we asked several poets to mix memory and desire — for food — in the pieces that follow. Bon appetit!

• 

So here is the actual story. I was bored. Bored even though I had the privilege of interviewing Mae Jemison, the first Black woman in space, who said she pursued a degree in physics and also became a medical doctor to keep her mind occupied. Mae’s iq must be nine hundred and fifty-five or thereabouts. I asked: “How do you keep from being bored?”

And she replied: “A friend of my father’s once told me ‘If you’re bored you’re not paying attention.’”

So I said: “Beer.”

We are foodies, my family and I. My grandmother was an extraordinary cook. Her miniature Parker House rolls have been known to float the roof off a flooded house in hurricane season. Grandpapa made pineapple ice cream so rich and creamy, with those surprising chunks that burst with citrusy flavor. My sister, Gary Ann, made spring rolls so perfectly the Chinese complained to the State Department, and my Aunt fries chicken just short of burning that has been known to make the Colonel denounce his own kfc. Mommy was the best bean cooker in this world—and still is, I’m sure, in the next. I do a pretty swell pot roast myself. We are, in other words, dangerous when it comes to food.

Mommy also liked pig feet. Boiled. Not pickled.

I was sad when Mommy died. Then six weeks later Gary Ann died. Then my Aunt Ann. I tried to find a way to bring them back.

Beer.

Mommy drank Miller Genuine Draft. Gary Ann drank Bud Light. Not me. What did I have in common with those guys on tv who were throwing a football around and looking just shy of fat? Nothing. They bored me. If it was going to be beer, I needed to learn something.

Going through books, I came across Utopia. Sam Adams. The number one beer in the world. Having always been a fan of start at the top, I called my local beer store. “I’d like to order a Utopia, please.” Thinking this would be easy.

“No Way,” Keith said. “We never get that!”
ok. I called Bounty Hunter. They have everything. That’s where I bought my Justice Series: Blind Justice, Frontier Justice, Poetic Justice. Great red wines.

“No, ma’am, we don’t sell beer.”

Utopia is only on a special allotment to Canada, where it is sold as a “Special Brew.” If I could just get to Canada, I could find my Utopia. But, dadgummit, the tsa would take it from me, claiming it was over three ounces. I’d be doggone if I would provide that group with Utopia. Never. Never. No Canada for me.

Samuel Adams’s Utopia is only brewed every other year. There will be a batch coming out this year, but it goes really quickly. There are folk who work at the Sam Adams Brewery just to be able to smell it, and I have heard, though I doubt that it’s true, that you are strip-searched when you leave work during Utopia season. Once, they say, someone belched and was immediately arrested.

Utopia is incredibly special, is the number one beer in the world because the aroma alone is worth the price. Can a beer be “chewy” while at the same time smooth as silk? Can a beer make you feel like a queen while bringing out your libido, making you want to howl? Indeed it can. Utopia makes you want a Swan for your Leda. A Lancelot for your Guinevere. A boiled pig foot for your low-down blues. Special? Are your first pair of stockings special? Is the first time your Mom let you wear lipstick special? Is your first kiss special? It’s Utopia.

But here is the happy part. I am a poet. I occasionally get invited to speak at Important Government Agencies. I was thrilled. Sure, someone will say: Why would you, a poet, a rebel, you who hate the tsa and think railroads should make a big comeback, you who think modern wars are stupid and unworthy—why would you speak for an Important Government Agency? Well, for one thing, I am an American. So government, whether I like it or not, R Me. For another thing, I know they have the world’s best computers. I was charming. I was funny. I was very nice and a good citizen. I wanted an illegal favor.

“Please, sir,” said I, “can you find Utopia?”

“Of course, little lady,” said the Director. “It’s in your heart and mind.” He smiled a lovely smile and patted me on my shoulder. Not wanting to appear to correct him, I smiled the smile of the defeated. And waited for him to leave. I asked his assistant.
“I think,” he pontificated, “it is in your soul. Search deep and you will find it.”

I knew I needed someone of color. Finally an older man, grey hair cut short, came by. “Please excuse me,” I said, “I’m trying to find Utopia. Can you help?”

“Why sure,” he said “as soon as I can find a safe computer.” We moved into another room and he made me stand way away from him so that I could not see the screen. He pulled up a website. “Here you go.” And he was right. “I can’t buy it as it’s against the rules, but get someone else to go to this site. I hear it’s a great beer. At $350 a pint, it ought to be.”

And now that I’ve found Utopia, I am at peace. I have Utopia, and if I were Egyptian I would be buried with it. I use it to start conversations and make friends. It is not for mortals. Or Americans. Utopia is for the gods.

chasing-utopia
The above piece was included in her latest collection of poems,
also entitled Chasing Utopia, published in 2013.

Historic Beer Birthday: Thomas Hardy

thomas-hardy
Today is the birthday of English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy (June 2, 1840-January 11, 1928). Hardy is best known for his novels Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895).

Thomashardy_restored

So what does he have to do with beer. Well besides mentioning it in his work, it’s because there’s a Thomas Hardy Ale that was originally created in 1968 by the Eldridge Pope Brewery to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Thomas Hardy’s death, which happened to coincide with the renovation of a pub in Dorchester named for one of Hardy’s novels, the “Trumpet Major,” first published in 1880.

1968_nip
The 1968 nip bottle.

There’s a great quote in the book, which describes a beer, and that was what they used as inspiration to create the beer that bears Hardy’s name. A portion of the quote was on the original 1968 label, but here’s a fuller version of it.

“It was of the most beautiful colour that the eye of an artist in beer could desire; full in body, yet brisk as a volcano; piquant, yet without a twang; luminous as an autumn sunset; free from streakiness of taste; but, finally, rather heady. The masses worshipped it, the minor gentry loved it more than wine, and by the most illustrious county families it was not despised. Anybody brought up for being drunk and disorderly in the streets of its natal borough, had only to prove that he was a stranger to the place and its liquor to be honourably dismissed by the magistrates, as one overtaken in a fault that no man could guard against who entered the town unawares.”

Eldridge Pope created “an ale matured in oak casks, very strong, capable of improving better taste with age.” After the first vintage in 1968, beginning in 1974 the second was brewed and a vintage-dated version was made each subsequent year until 1999.

thomas-hardy-ales

Another brewery, the O’Hanlon Brewery, picked up brewing Thomas Hardy Ale in 2003, and produced annual versions until 2008. Unfortunately, they went bankrupt in 2011, and reopened later as the Hanlon Brewery.

2007_halfpint
One of the last vintages, from 2007.

When they began reproducing it again in 2003, a new website for Thomas Hardy Ale was created, and they tell the story of the ale:

First produced in 1968, Thomas Hardy’s Ale is barley wine produced just once yearly, with annual vintages in limited quantities. It quickly became an icon among beer and took on legendary status due to its sudden disappearance. Now, the legend is back…

1968 bottle of Thomas Hardy’s Ale“At the moment, all rights are in the hands of the American importer George Saxon, who – we hope – won’t take long putting Thomas Hardy’s back on the market”, as stated by Adrian Tierney-Jones to conclude his comment on Thomas Hardy’s Ale in the book “1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die”. In the words of one of the most famous Anglo-Saxon beer writers, we can clearly perceive a bit of melancholy for the disappearance of Thomas Hardy’s Ale from the global market.

Why such melancholy? Each day, worldwide, tens or even hundreds of thousands of bottles of various beers are produced, yet Thomas Hardy’s was unique. A real, proper icon of beer drinking, almost a cult object.
The beer was created way back in 1968 with one clear intention: to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the dead of the brilliant writer Thomas Hardy, author of “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” and other important novels. In an equally famous tale, “The Trumpet Major”, Hardy spoke of a strong Dorchester beer, defining it “the most beautiful colour an artist could possibly desire, as bright as an autumn sunset”…

The Eldridge Pope brewery decided to try and create that beer Hardy mentioned in his writing. It had to be a special beer, with a high alcohol content, a consistent and sensuous body and long lasting and resilient aroma, or rather, capable of lasting over time (25 years, according to the brewery). Beer created for big occasions and therefore only produced once a year, left at length to mature in wood and lastly, brought to light in numbered bottles, with the year of production, the batch and the quantity produced clearly visible.

Thomas Hardy’s Ale quickly became hugely famous. The quality of the product combined with its exclusivity was an explosive mix. The individual years soon became the object of vertical tastings, like those held for important Langhe or Bordeaux wines and prices went sky high. However, producing Thomas Hardy’s was very expensive and making it meant sacrificing time and means for beer intentionally produced in limited quantities. In 1999 Eldridge Pope ceased production and, for the first time, Thomas Hardy’s appeared to have been confined to memory or auctions. Its disappearance, however, further reinforced its fame and lovers of this stylish leader of barley wines called for its return. And Thomas Hardy’s was back.

This time, starting in 2003, the O’Hanlon brewery created it. The same recipe, same immense work and the same exclusivity. Another six, prestigious years followed for a beer by now renowned around the world. Yet, for a second time, this excellent beer disappeared. And this time…

Forever? No, the good news is that Thomas Hardy’s Ale is to be revived in all its greatness, while maintaining all its extraordinary and unique peculiarities: vintage production is on English soil with limited quantities produced, its slight hints of dark fruit, turf and roast malt and its flavour that at times recalls a fine port or quality brandy.

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The 1990 vintage bottle.

It was one of the earliest modern beers to be vintage dated, at least it’s one of the earliest I’m aware of. The earliest year I’ve tasted in 1977, and I was lucky enough once to do a vertical tasting of several vintages of the barley wine. I still have a few bottles from the early 1990s, including a 1990 bottle, in my cellar. I’m waiting for the perfect time to share them.

As for the future, it’s apparently coming back yet again, this time by an Italian brewery. Patrick Dawson wrote about it in April for Craft Beer & Brewing magazine, with an article entitled The Rebirth of Thomas Hardy Ale.

Hardy_1911
Thomas Hardy in 1911.

Happy Towel Day!

towel
In addition to being “Geek Pride Day” today, it’s also “Towel Day,” which is a tribute to Douglas Adams that was started in 2001. If you haven’t read or are otherwise familiar with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — I’m disappointed in you — but here’s why a towel is relevant to that story, as explained in Chapter 3:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost.” What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)

The idea is that on May 25, fans should openly carry a towel with them, in fact they want you to make “sure that the towel is conspicuous — use it as a talking point to encourage those who have never read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to go pick up a copy. Wrap it around your head, use it as a weapon, soak it in nutrients — whatever you want!”

But since this is beer-focused place, and I don’t want to shortchange you, here are some beer towels that are educational as well as useful as any towel would be. So hopefully, you carried your towel with you today. If not, there’s always next year.

beer-towel-1
This beer towel is available from the Baltic Shop.

beer-towel-2
This one on beer and food pairing is likewise from the Baltic Shop.

beer-towel-3
And so is this one on beers of the world.

John Updike’s Paean To The Beer Can

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Today is one of my favorite author’s birthdays, John Updike. He grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town that I did — Shillington — and we both escaped to a life of writing. Though I think you’ll agree he did rather better than I did with the writing thing, not that I’m complaining. I once wrote to him about a harebrained idea I had about writing updated Olinger stories from the perspective of the next generation (his Olinger Stories were a series of short tales set in Olinger, which was essentially his fictional name for Shillington). He wrote me back a nice note of encouragement on a hand-typed postcard that he signed, which today hangs in my office as a reminder and for inspiration. Anyway, this little gem he wrote for the The New Yorker in 1964 is a favorite of mine and I now post it each year in his honor. Enjoy.

Beer Can by John Updike

This seems to be an era of gratuitous inventions and negative improvements. Consider the beer can. It was beautiful — as beautiful as the clothespin, as inevitable as the wine bottle, as dignified and reassuring as the fire hydrant. A tranquil cylinder of delightfully resonant metal, it could be opened in an instant, requiring only the application of a handy gadget freely dispensed by every grocer. Who can forget the small, symmetrical thrill of those two triangular punctures, the dainty pfff, the little crest of suds that foamed eagerly in the exultation of release? Now we are given, instead, a top beetling with an ugly, shmoo-shaped tab, which, after fiercely resisting the tugging, bleeding fingers of the thirsty man, threatens his lips with a dangerous and hideous hole. However, we have discovered a way to thwart Progress, usually so unthwartable. Turn the beer can upside down and open the bottom. The bottom is still the way the top used to be. True, this operation gives the beer an unsettling jolt, and the sight of a consistently inverted beer can might make people edgy, not to say queasy. But the latter difficulty could be eliminated if manufacturers would design cans that looked the same whichever end was up, like playing cards. What we need is Progress with an escape hatch.

Now that’s writing. I especially like his allusion to the beauty of the clothespin as I am an unabashed lover of clothespins.

In case you’re not as old and curmudgeonly as me — and who is? — he’s talking about the transition to the pull-tab beer can (introduced between 1962-64) to replace the flat punch-top can that required you to punch two triangular holes in the top of the can in order to drink the beer and pour it in a glass.
pull-top-can punch-top-can
The pull-tab (at left) replaced the punch top (right).

Originally known as the Zip Top, Rusty Cans has an informative and entertaining history of them. Now you know why a lot of bottle openers still have that triangle-shaped punch on one end.
church-key

So essentially, he’s lamenting the death of the old style beer can which most people considered a pain to open and downright impossible should you be without the necessary church key opener. He is correct, however, that the newfangled suckers were sharp and did cut fingers and lips on occasion, even snapping off without opening from time to time. But you still have to laugh at the unwillingness to embrace change (and possibly progress) even though he was only 32 at the time; hardly a normally curmudgeonly age.

The Brothers Grimm & Fairy Tale Beer

fairytale
Today is the birthday of Wilhelm Grimm, who along with his brother Jacob Grimm, created numerous fairy tales under the name the Brothers Grimm. Their best known stories are classics, tales like “Cinderella,”, “The Frog Prince,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Rapunzel,” “Rumpelstiltskin,” and “Snow White.” We usually think of these old fairy tales as being strictly for kids, probably because of how Disney and others have sanitized them, but the originals are often genuinely frightening, and their moral and purpose was to scare children, the original “scared straight” stories. In a few lesser-known stories, beer is mentioned and in a few cases is actually an important factor in the tale. Here’s a few of these Grimm’s fairy tales involving beer to read to your kids or just enjoy yourself.

Clever Elsie

Clever-Elsie

There was once a man who had a daughter who was called Clever Elsie. And when she had grown up her father said: ‘We will get her married.’ ‘Yes,’ said the mother, ‘if only someone would come who would have her.’ At length a man came from a distance and wooed her, who was called Hans; but he stipulated that Clever Elsie should be really smart. ‘Oh,’ said the father, ‘she has plenty of good sense'; and the mother said: ‘Oh, she can see the wind coming up the street, and hear the flies coughing.’ ‘Well,’ said Hans, ‘if she is not really smart, I won’t have her.’ When they were sitting at dinner and had eaten, the mother said: ‘Elsie, go into the cellar and fetch some beer.’ Then Clever Elsie took the pitcher from the wall, went into the cellar, and tapped the lid briskly as she went, so that the time might not appear long. When she was below she fetched herself a chair, and set it before the barrel so that she had no need to stoop, and did not hurt her back or do herself any unexpected injury. Then she placed the can before her, and turned the tap, and while the beer was running she would not let her eyes be idle, but looked up at the wall, and after much peering here and there, saw a pick-axe exactly above her, which the masons had accidentally left there.

Then Clever Elsie began to weep and said: ‘If I get Hans, and we have a child, and he grows big, and we send him into the cellar here to draw beer, then the pick-axe will fall on his head and kill him.’ Then she sat and wept and screamed with all the strength of her body, over the misfortune which lay before her. Those upstairs waited for the drink, but Clever Elsie still did not come. Then the woman said to the servant: ‘Just go down into the cellar and see where Elsie is.’ The maid went and found her sitting in front of the barrel, screaming loudly. ‘Elsie why do you weep?’ asked the maid. ‘Ah,’ she answered, ‘have I not reason to weep? If I get Hans, and we have a child, and he grows big, and has to draw beer here, the pick-axe will perhaps fall on his head, and kill him.’ Then said the maid: ‘What a clever Elsie we have!’ and sat down beside her and began loudly to weep over the misfortune. After a while, as the maid did not come back, and those upstairs were thirsty for the beer, the man said to the boy: ‘Just go down into the cellar and see where Elsie and the girl are.’ The boy went down, and there sat Clever Elsie and the girl both weeping together. Then he asked: ‘Why are you weeping?’ ‘Ah,’ said Elsie, ‘have I not reason to weep? If I get Hans, and we have a child, and he grows big, and has to draw beer here, the pick-axe will fall on his head and kill him.’ Then said the boy: ‘What a clever Elsie we have!’ and sat down by her, and likewise began to howl loudly. Upstairs they waited for the boy, but as he still did not return, the man said to the woman: ‘Just go down into the cellar and see where Elsie is!’ The woman went down, and found all three in the midst of their lamentations, and inquired what was the cause; then Elsie told her also that her future child was to be killed by the pick-axe, when it grew big and had to draw beer, and the pick-axe fell down. Then said the mother likewise: ‘What a clever Elsie we have!’ and sat down and wept with them. The man upstairs waited a short time, but as his wife did not come back and his thirst grew ever greater, he said: ‘I must go into the cellar myself and see where Elsie is.’ But when he got into the cellar, and they were all sitting together crying, and he heard the reason, and that Elsie’s child was the cause, and the Elsie might perhaps bring one into the world some day, and that he might be killed by the pick-axe, if he should happen to be sitting beneath it, drawing beer just at the very time when it fell down, he cried: ‘Oh, what a clever Elsie!’ and sat down, and likewise wept with them. The bridegroom stayed upstairs alone for a long time; then as no one would come back he thought: ‘They must be waiting for me below: I too must go there and see what they are about.’ When he got down, the five of them were sitting screaming and lamenting quite piteously, each out-doing the other. ‘What misfortune has happened then?’ asked he. ‘Ah, dear Hans,’ said Elsie, ‘if we marry each other and have a child, and he is big, and we perhaps send him here to draw something to drink, then the pick-axe which has been left up there might dash his brains out if it were to fall down, so have we not reason to weep?’ ‘Come,’ said Hans, ‘more understanding than that is not needed for my household, as you are such a clever Elsie, I will have you,’ and seized her hand, took her upstairs with him, and married her.

After Hans had had her some time, he said: ‘Wife, I am going out to work and earn some money for us; go into the field and cut the corn that we may have some bread.’ ‘Yes, dear Hans, I will do that.’ After Hans had gone away, she cooked herself some good broth and took it into the field with her. When she came to the field she said to herself: ‘What shall I do; shall I cut first, or shall I eat first? Oh, I will eat first.’ Then she drank her cup of broth and when she was fully satisfied, she once more said: ‘What shall I do? Shall I cut first, or shall I sleep first? I will sleep first.’ Then she lay down among the corn and fell asleep. Hans had been at home for a long time, but Elsie did not come; then said he: ‘What a clever Elsie I have; she is so industrious that she does not even come home to eat.’ But when evening came and she still stayed away, Hans went out to see what she had cut, but nothing was cut, and she was lying among the corn asleep. Then Hans hastened home and brought a fowler’s net with little bells and hung it round about her, and she still went on sleeping. Then he ran home, shut the house-door, and sat down in his chair and worked. At length, when it was quite dark, Clever Elsie awoke and when she got up there was a jingling all round about her, and the bells rang at each step which she took. Then she was alarmed, and became uncertain whether she really was Clever Elsie or not, and said: ‘Is it I, or is it not I?’ But she knew not what answer to make to this, and stood for a time in doubt; at length she thought: ‘I will go home and ask if it be I, or if it be not I, they will be sure to know.’ She ran to the door of her own house, but it was shut; then she knocked at the window and cried: ‘Hans, is Elsie within?’ ‘Yes,’ answered Hans, ‘she is within.’ Hereupon she was terrified, and said: ‘Ah, heavens! Then it is not I,’ and went to another door; but when the people heard the jingling of the bells they would not open it, and she could get in nowhere. Then she ran out of the village, and no one has seen her since.

Frederick and Catherine

frederick-and-catherine

There was once a man called Frederick: he had a wife whose name was Catherine, and they had not long been married. One day Frederick said. ‘Kate! I am going to work in the fields; when I come back I shall be hungry so let me have something nice cooked, and a good draught of ale.’ ‘Very well,’ said she, ‘it shall all be ready.’ When dinner-time drew nigh, Catherine took a nice steak, which was all the meat she had, and put it on the fire to fry. The steak soon began to look brown, and to crackle in the pan; and Catherine stood by with a fork and turned it: then she said to herself, ‘The steak is almost ready, I may as well go to the cellar for the ale.’ So she left the pan on the fire and took a large jug and went into the cellar and tapped the ale cask. The beer ran into the jug and Catherine stood looking on. At last it popped into her head, ‘The dog is not shut up—he may be running away with the steak; that’s well thought of.’ So up she ran from the cellar; and sure enough the rascally cur had got the steak in his mouth, and was making off with it.

Away ran Catherine, and away ran the dog across the field: but he ran faster than she, and stuck close to the steak. ‘It’s all gone, and “what can’t be cured must be endured”,’ said Catherine. So she turned round; and as she had run a good way and was tired, she walked home leisurely to cool herself.

Now all this time the ale was running too, for Catherine had not turned the cock; and when the jug was full the liquor ran upon the floor till the cask was empty. When she got to the cellar stairs she saw what had happened. ‘My stars!’ said she, ‘what shall I do to keep Frederick from seeing all this slopping about?’ So she thought a while; and at last remembered that there was a sack of fine meal bought at the last fair, and that if she sprinkled this over the floor it would suck up the ale nicely. ‘What a lucky thing,’ said she, ‘that we kept that meal! we have now a good use for it.’ So away she went for it: but she managed to set it down just upon the great jug full of beer, and upset it; and thus all the ale that had been saved was set swimming on the floor also. ‘Ah! well,’ said she, ‘when one goes another may as well follow.’ Then she strewed the meal all about the cellar, and was quite pleased with her cleverness, and said, ‘How very neat and clean it looks!’

At noon Frederick came home. ‘Now, wife,’ cried he, ‘what have you for dinner?’ ‘O Frederick!’ answered she, ‘I was cooking you a steak; but while I went down to draw the ale, the dog ran away with it; and while I ran after him, the ale ran out; and when I went to dry up the ale with the sack of meal that we got at the fair, I upset the jug: but the cellar is now quite dry, and looks so clean!’ ‘Kate, Kate,’ said he, ‘how could you do all this?’ Why did you leave the steak to fry, and the ale to run, and then spoil all the meal?’ ‘Why, Frederick,’ said she, ‘I did not know I was doing wrong; you should have told me before.’

The husband thought to himself, ‘If my wife manages matters thus, I must look sharp myself.’ Now he had a good deal of gold in the house: so he said to Catherine, ‘What pretty yellow buttons these are! I shall put them into a box and bury them in the garden; but take care that you never go near or meddle with them.’ ‘No, Frederick,’ said she, ‘that I never will.’ As soon as he was gone, there came by some peddlers with earthenware plates and dishes, and they asked her whether she would buy. ‘Oh dear me, I should like to buy very much, but I have no money: if you had any use for yellow buttons, I might deal with you.’ ‘Yellow buttons!’ said they: ‘let us have a look at them.’ ‘Go into the garden and dig where I tell you, and you will find the yellow buttons: I dare not go myself.’ So the rogues went: and when they found what these yellow buttons were, they took them all away, and left her plenty of plates and dishes. Then she set them all about the house for a show: and when Frederick came back, he cried out, ‘Kate, what have you been doing?’ ‘See,’ said she, ‘I have bought all these with your yellow buttons: but I did not touch them myself; the pedlars went themselves and dug them up.’ ‘Wife, wife,’ said Frederick, ‘what a pretty piece of work you have made! those yellow buttons were all my money: how came you to do such a thing?’ ‘Why,’ answered she, ‘I did not know there was any harm in it; you should have told me.’

Catherine stood musing for a while, and at last said to her husband, ‘Hark ye, Frederick, we will soon get the gold back: let us run after the thieves.’ ‘Well, we will try,’ answered he; ‘but take some butter and cheese with you, that we may have something to eat by the way.’ ‘Very well,’ said she; and they set out: and as Frederick walked the fastest, he left his wife some way behind. ‘It does not matter,’ thought she: ‘when we turn back, I shall be so much nearer home than he.’

Presently she came to the top of a hill, down the side of which there was a road so narrow that the cart wheels always chafed the trees on each side as they passed. ‘Ah, see now,’ said she, ‘how they have bruised and wounded those poor trees; they will never get well.’ So she took pity on them, and made use of the butter to grease them all, so that the wheels might not hurt them so much. While she was doing this kind office one of her cheeses fell out of the basket, and rolled down the hill. Catherine looked, but could not see where it had gone; so she said, ‘Well, I suppose the other will go the same way and find you; he has younger legs than I have.’ Then she rolled the other cheese after it; and away it went, nobody knows where, down the hill. But she said she supposed that they knew the road, and would follow her, and she could not stay there all day waiting for them.

At last she overtook Frederick, who desired her to give him something to eat. Then she gave him the dry bread. ‘Where are the butter and cheese?’ said he. ‘Oh!’ answered she, ‘I used the butter to grease those poor trees that the wheels chafed so: and one of the cheeses ran away so I sent the other after it to find it, and I suppose they are both on the road together somewhere.’ ‘What a goose you are to do such silly things!’ said the husband. ‘How can you say so?’ said she; ‘I am sure you never told me not.’

They ate the dry bread together; and Frederick said, ‘Kate, I hope you locked the door safe when you came away.’ ‘No,’ answered she, ‘you did not tell me.’ ‘Then go home, and do it now before we go any farther,’ said Frederick, ‘and bring with you something to eat.’

Catherine did as he told her, and thought to herself by the way, ‘Frederick wants something to eat; but I don’t think he is very fond of butter and cheese: I’ll bring him a bag of fine nuts, and the vinegar, for I have often seen him take some.’

When she reached home, she bolted the back door, but the front door she took off the hinges, and said, ‘Frederick told me to lock the door, but surely it can nowhere be so safe if I take it with me.’ So she took her time by the way; and when she overtook her husband she cried out, ‘There, Frederick, there is the door itself, you may watch it as carefully as you please.’ ‘Alas! alas!’ said he, ‘what a clever wife I have! I sent you to make the house fast, and you take the door away, so that everybody may go in and out as they please—however, as you have brought the door, you shall carry it about with you for your pains.’ ‘Very well,’ answered she, ‘I’ll carry the door; but I’ll not carry the nuts and vinegar bottle also—that would be too much of a load; so if you please, I’ll fasten them to the door.’

Frederick of course made no objection to that plan, and they set off into the wood to look for the thieves; but they could not find them: and when it grew dark, they climbed up into a tree to spend the night there. Scarcely were they up, than who should come by but the very rogues they were looking for. They were in truth great rascals, and belonged to that class of people who find things before they are lost; they were tired; so they sat down and made a fire under the very tree where Frederick and Catherine were. Frederick slipped down on the other side, and picked up some stones. Then he climbed up again, and tried to hit the thieves on the head with them: but they only said, ‘It must be near morning, for the wind shakes the fir-apples down.’

Catherine, who had the door on her shoulder, began to be very tired; but she thought it was the nuts upon it that were so heavy: so she said softly, ‘Frederick, I must let the nuts go.’ ‘No,’ answered he, ‘not now, they will discover us.’ ‘I can’t help that: they must go.’ ‘Well, then, make haste and throw them down, if you will.’ Then away rattled the nuts down among the boughs and one of the thieves cried, ‘Bless me, it is hailing.’

A little while after, Catherine thought the door was still very heavy: so she whispered to Frederick, ‘I must throw the vinegar down.’ ‘Pray don’t,’ answered he, ‘it will discover us.’ ‘I can’t help that,’ said she, ‘go it must.’ So she poured all the vinegar down; and the thieves said, ‘What a heavy dew there is!’

At last it popped into Catherine’s head that it was the door itself that was so heavy all the time: so she whispered, ‘Frederick, I must throw the door down soon.’ But he begged and prayed her not to do so, for he was sure it would betray them. ‘Here goes, however,’ said she: and down went the door with such a clatter upon the thieves, that they cried out ‘Murder!’ and not knowing what was coming, ran away as fast as they could, and left all the gold. So when Frederick and Catherine came down, there they found all their money safe and sound.

The Golden Goose

golden-goose

There was a man who had three sons, the youngest of whom was called Dummling,[*] and was despised, mocked, and sneered at on every occasion.

It happened that the eldest wanted to go into the forest to hew wood, and before he went his mother gave him a beautiful sweet cake and a bottle of wine in order that he might not suffer from hunger or thirst.

When he entered the forest he met a little grey-haired old man who bade him good day, and said: ‘Do give me a piece of cake out of your pocket, and let me have a draught of your wine; I am so hungry and thirsty.’ But the clever son answered: ‘If I give you my cake and wine, I shall have none for myself; be off with you,’ and he left the little man standing and went on.

But when he began to hew down a tree, it was not long before he made a false stroke, and the axe cut him in the arm, so that he had to go home and have it bound up. And this was the little grey man’s doing.

After this the second son went into the forest, and his mother gave him, like the eldest, a cake and a bottle of wine. The little old grey man met him likewise, and asked him for a piece of cake and a drink of wine. But the second son, too, said sensibly enough: ‘What I give you will be taken away from myself; be off!’ and he left the little man standing and went on. His punishment, however, was not delayed; when he had made a few blows at the tree he struck himself in the leg, so that he had to be carried home.

Then Dummling said: ‘Father, do let me go and cut wood.’ The father answered: ‘Your brothers have hurt themselves with it, leave it alone, you do not understand anything about it.’ But Dummling begged so long that at last he said: ‘Just go then, you will get wiser by hurting yourself.’ His mother gave him a cake made with water and baked in the cinders, and with it a bottle of sour beer.

When he came to the forest the little old grey man met him likewise, and greeting him, said: ‘Give me a piece of your cake and a drink out of your bottle; I am so hungry and thirsty.’ Dummling answered: ‘I have only cinder-cake and sour beer; if that pleases you, we will sit down and eat.’ So they sat down, and when Dummling pulled out his cinder-cake, it was a fine sweet cake, and the sour beer had become good wine. So they ate and drank, and after that the little man said: ‘Since you have a good heart, and are willing to divide what you have, I will give you good luck. There stands an old tree, cut it down, and you will find something at the roots.’ Then the little man took leave of him.

Dummling went and cut down the tree, and when it fell there was a goose sitting in the roots with feathers of pure gold. He lifted her up, and taking her with him, went to an inn where he thought he would stay the night. Now the host had three daughters, who saw the goose and were curious to know what such a wonderful bird might be, and would have liked to have one of its golden feathers.

The eldest thought: ‘I shall soon find an opportunity of pulling out a feather,’ and as soon as Dummling had gone out she seized the goose by the wing, but her finger and hand remained sticking fast to it.

The second came soon afterwards, thinking only of how she might get a feather for herself, but she had scarcely touched her sister than she was held fast.

At last the third also came with the like intent, and the others screamed out: ‘Keep away; for goodness’ sake keep away!’ But she did not understand why she was to keep away. ‘The others are there,’ she thought, ‘I may as well be there too,’ and ran to them; but as soon as she had touched her sister, she remained sticking fast to her. So they had to spend the night with the goose.

The next morning Dummling took the goose under his arm and set out, without troubling himself about the three girls who were hanging on to it. They were obliged to run after him continually, now left, now right, wherever his legs took him.

In the middle of the fields the parson met them, and when he saw the procession he said: ‘For shame, you good-for-nothing girls, why are you running across the fields after this young man? Is that seemly?’ At the same time he seized the youngest by the hand in order to pull her away, but as soon as he touched her he likewise stuck fast, and was himself obliged to run behind.

Before long the sexton came by and saw his master, the parson, running behind three girls. He was astonished at this and called out: ‘Hi! your reverence, whither away so quickly? Do not forget that we have a christening today!’ and running after him he took him by the sleeve, but was also held fast to it.

Whilst the five were trotting thus one behind the other, two labourers came with their hoes from the fields; the parson called out to them and begged that they would set him and the sexton free. But they had scarcely touched the sexton when they were held fast, and now there were seven of them running behind Dummling and the goose.
Soon afterwards he came to a city, where a king ruled who had a daughter who was so serious that no one could make her laugh. So he had put forth a decree that whosoever should be able to make her laugh should marry her. When Dummling heard this, he went with his goose and all her train before the king’s daughter, and as soon as she saw the seven people running on and on, one behind the other, she began to laugh quite loudly, and as if she would never stop. Thereupon Dummling asked to have her for his wife; but the king did not like the son-in-law, and made all manner of excuses and said he must first produce a man who could drink a cellarful of wine. Dummling thought of the little grey man, who could certainly help him; so he went into the forest, and in the same place where he had felled the tree, he saw a man sitting, who had a very sorrowful face. Dummling asked him what he was taking to heart so sorely, and he answered: ‘I have such a great thirst and cannot quench it; cold water I cannot stand, a barrel of wine I have just emptied, but that to me is like a drop on a hot stone!’

‘There, I can help you,’ said Dummling, ‘just come with me and you shall be satisfied.’

He led him into the king’s cellar, and the man bent over the huge barrels, and drank and drank till his loins hurt, and before the day was out he had emptied all the barrels. Then Dummling asked once more for his bride, but the king was vexed that such an ugly fellow, whom everyone called Dummling, should take away his daughter, and he made a new condition; he must first find a man who could eat a whole mountain of bread. Dummling did not think long, but went straight into the forest, where in the same place there sat a man who was tying up his body with a strap, and making an awful face, and saying: ‘I have eaten a whole ovenful of rolls, but what good is that when one has such a hunger as I? My stomach remains empty, and I must tie myself up if I am not to die of hunger.’
At this Dummling was glad, and said: ‘Get up and come with me; you shall eat yourself full.’ He led him to the king’s palace where all the flour in the whole Kingdom was collected, and from it he caused a huge mountain of bread to be baked. The man from the forest stood before it, began to eat, and by the end of one day the whole mountain had vanished. Then Dummling for the third time asked for his bride; but the king again sought a way out, and ordered a ship which could sail on land and on water. ‘As soon as you come sailing back in it,’ said he, ‘you shall have my daughter for wife.’

Dummling went straight into the forest, and there sat the little grey man to whom he had given his cake. When he heard what Dummling wanted, he said: ‘Since you have given me to eat and to drink, I will give you the ship; and I do all this because you once were kind to me.’ Then he gave him the ship which could sail on land and water, and when the king saw that, he could no longer prevent him from having his daughter. The wedding was celebrated, and after the king’s death, Dummling inherited his kingdom and lived for a long time contentedly with his wife.

A Tankard Of Porter

poetry
Here’s an odd little love poem to beer, called “A Tankard of Porter.” It was written by William Woty in 1759. I’m not sure if it’s a good poem or a bad one, and history seems divided, as well, at least about the poet. Wikipedia‘s entry refers to Woty as a “hack writer,” describing him as “an English law clerk and hack writer, known for light verse.” Another source describes him a bit more kindly.

William Woty came to London, possibly from the Isle of Wight, to clerk for a solicitor. He participated in debating clubs and published poetry in the newspapers that was later collected his volume, The Shrubs of Parnassus. Woty was involved with William Dodd in the Christian’s Magazine, and with Francis Fawkes in The Poetical Calendar. About 1767 he found a patron in Washington, earl Ferrers, for whom he did legal work. Woty died at Loughborough, 15 March 1791, having acquired some reputation as a bon vivant.

But regardless of whether it’s a good or bad poem, it certainly is rich with descriptive language and allusions. It was originally published February 17, 1759 in either the Universal Chronicle, or Weekly Gazette 2. So decide for yourself. Epic poem or abomination?

A Tankard Of Porter

The foaming Cup replete with mad’ning juice
Of Gallic Vines, to others’ taste I leave.
Why should I sicken for exotic draughts,
Since with kind hand domestic Ceres gives
Potations more robust! — Replenish here—
Boy! take this honest Tankard — fill it high
With buxom Porter, such as Hercules,
Was Hercules in being, would imbibe.
Behold its pyramid of tow’ring froth,
Brown as a nut, and sparkling on the sight;
Tho’ some prefer it white as Alpine snow,
Or Caelia’s milky orbs! encircled oft
Amidst my jovial intimates, to her,
Benignant Goddess of the Barley-mow,
Who ever guards, and swells the smiling ear,
Her own libation let me offer up
With thanks exulting, ’till I can no more.
‘Tis this enlivens the Freethinker’s brain,
Great bulwark of the Robinhood debate!
By this he dares his florid argument,
And pours forth unpremeditated tropes.
How shall I speak its praise! this mental balm
To the desponding chairman, vig’rous nurse
Of spirits warlike, to the soldier’s breast
Impenetrable steel, nerve of his nerves;
And comfort to the sailor in the storm!
Rouz’d from the lethargy of sleeping thought,
By Porter’s fluid, the mechanic prates
Of state-connections, as at night he sits
With smoke envelop’d, over Truemans’ Mild.
Say! is it her, who pleads for British freedom,
This little Monarch in his potent cups!
Is’t he, whose ample mind excursive roves
To where the Prussian Hero leads his troops
Against united forces! this the Man
Who plans an expedition, lays down rules
To settle politic concerns, and dares
With sage advice to dictate to a Throne?
Grant it! but ’tis the Porter’s manly juice
That animates his organs, gives his tongue
The liberty of speech, his hollow thought
Impregnates quick, and sets his brain on fire.
At rich Hortensio’s table tho’ thou’rt held
In estimation cheap, thy charms to me
Are not diminish’d; for secure from ills,
I quaff thy salut’frous stream, whilst he,
(Sad slave to appetite, that knows no bounds)
Drinks in each glass th’ inflammatory gout,
“And thousand other ills that flesh is heir to.”

Can dear-bought Claret boast of services
With thine co-equal? Or can Punch itself,
However temper’d, or with Wenman’s rum,
Or Ashley’s brandy, or Batavian ‘rack,
High-priz’d, diffuse hilarity like thine!
Absurd — before the nodding Barley-sheaf
The Gallic vine must bow, and Gallic butlers
To the stout British Draymen must give way.
Now when the evening creeps with gradual step,
And wraps the day within her sable shroud;
Come, Tankard, to my hand, and with thee bring
The Pipe, companion meet. Attended thus
My nectar will I quaff, and fill the room
With smoak voluminous, ’till Morpheus’ wand
Slow-breaking thro’ the cloud mine eye-lids close,
And fix me snoring in my elbow-chair.

tankard-of-porter

Tolkien’s ” The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late”

bilbo-baggins
Today is the birthday of J.R.R. Tolkien, the English author of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But he was also a poet, which shouldn’t be a big surprise to fans since most of his works include pomes and songs as a part of his stories.

Tolkien was also a fan of British beer. One of the 30 Facts about J.R.R. Tolkien mentions his love of beer:

As a young student at Exeter college, Oxford University, he spent his first few years often getting into debt trying to keep up with richer students, who had more disposable income. Tolkien admits he had a great love of beer and talking into the early hours of the morning.

Author Eric San Juan also writes about J.R.R. Tolkien, Hobbits, and BEER. After detailing the ways in which beer influenced his life and work, he concludes that “yes, J.R.R. Tolkien enjoyed his beer, and this is reflected in his life’s work. He enjoyed quiet times and good conversation and a great pint. And who doesn’t?”

tolkien-drinks-1

In 1968 during a BBC interview, part of a series entitled “In Their Own Words British Authors,” Tolkien quips. “I’m very fond of beer.” In fact, the interview is described as “John Izzard meets with JRR Tolkien at his home, walking with him through the Oxford locations that he loves while hearing the author’s own views about his wildly successful high-fantasy novels. Tolkien shares his love of nature and beer and his admiration for ‘trenchermen’ in this genial and affectionate programme.”

Earlier today, I tweeted a Tolkien quote, an excerpt from one of his poems. But while I’d collected the quote years ago, in checking it for accuracy, I encountered some confusion about the poem. It comes from a poem entitled “The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late” from 1923 but some misattributed it to a later one, called “The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon,” which also appeared with the latter one in a collection published under the title “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil,” published in 1962.

The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late also appeared in The Fellowship of the Ring, the first book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In the Inn at Bree (“At the Sign of the Prancing Pony”, The Fellowship of the Ring Chapter 9) Frodo jumps on a table and recites “a ridiculous song” invented by Bilbo. “Here it is in full,” said Tolkien. “Only a few words of it are now, as a rule, remembered.”

There follows the tale, in thirteen ballad-like five-line stanzas, introducing each element in turn: “the Man in the Moon” himself, the ostler’s “tipsy cat/ that plays a five-stringed fiddle”, the little dog, the “hornéd cow” and the silver dishes and spoons.

Note that the cow is able to jump over the Moon with ease because the Man in the Moon has temporarily brought it down to Earth.

I read all of the books when I was younger — much younger — and I confess I didn’t recall the poem at all. Even when I found the quote, it was an excerpt. So today I figured I’d check out the full poem. The first one is great, filled with cool allusions, references to nursery rhymes, excellent wordplay and fun beeriness. The second doesn’t mention beer at all, only wine and moonshine, but it still interesting, especially as it’s considered a companion poem to the other. I’ve put both of them down below, with illustrations by British artist Alan Lee. Read the first one at least, it’s great — really great — but the second is nice, as well.

alan_lee_the-man-in-the-moon-stayed-up-too-late

The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late

There is an inn, a merry old inn
beneath an old grey hill,
And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Man in the Moon himself came down
one night to drink his fill.

The ostler has a tipsy cat
that plays a five-stringed fiddle;
And up and down he saws his bow
Now squeaking high, now purring low,
now sawing in the middle.

The landlord keeps a little dog
that is mighty fond of jokes;
When there’s good cheer among the guests,
He cocks an ear at all the jests
and laughs until he chokes.

They also keep a hornéd cow
as proud as any queen;
But music turns her head like ale,
And makes her wave her tufted tail
and dance upon the green.

And O! the rows of silver dishes
and the store of silver spoons!
For Sunday there’s a special pair,
And these they polish up with care
on Saturday afternoons.

The Man in the Moon was drinking deep,
and the cat began to wail;
A dish and a spoon on the table danced,
The cow in the garden madly pranced
and the little dog chased his tail.

The Man in the Moon took another mug,
and then rolled beneath his chair;
And there he dozed and dreamed of ale,
Till in the sky the stars were pale,
and dawn was in the air.

Then the ostler said to his tipsy cat:
‘The white horses of the Moon,
They neigh and champ their silver bits;
But their master’s been and drowned his wits,
and the Sun’ll be rising soon!’

So the cat on the fiddle played hey-diddle-diddle,
a jig that would wake the dead:
He squeaked and sawed and quickened the tune,
While the landlord shook the Man in the Moon:
‘It’s after three!’ he said.

They rolled the Man slowly up the hill
and bundled him into the Moon,
While his horses galloped up in rear,
And the cow came capering like a deer,
and a dish ran up with the spoon.

Now quicker the fiddle went deedle-dum-diddle;
the dog began to roar,
The cow and the horses stood on their heads;
The guests all bounded from their beds
and danced upon the floor.

With a ping and a pang the fiddle-strings broke!
the cow jumped over the Moon,
And the little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the Saturday dish went off at a run
with the silver Sunday spoon.

The round Moon rolled behind the hill,
as the Sun raised up her head.
She hardly believed her fiery eyes;
For though it was day, to her surprise
they all went back to bed!

man-in-moon

The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon

The Man in the Moon had silver shoon,
It and his beard was of silver thread;
With opals crowned and pearls all bound
about his girdlestead,
In his mantle grey he walked one day
across a shining floor,
And with crystal key in secrecy
he opened an ivory door.

On a filigree stair of glimmering hair
then lightly down he went,
And merry was he at last to be free
on a mad adventure bent.
In diamonds white he had lost delight;
he was tired of his minaret
Of tall moonstone that towered alone
on a lunar mountain set.

Hĺ would dare any peril for ruby and beryl
to broider his pale attire,
For new diadems of lustrous gems,
emerald and sapphire.
So was lonely too with nothing to do
but stare at the world of gold
And heark to the hum that would distantly come
as gaily round it rolled.

At plenilune in his argent moon
in his heart he longed for Fire:
fot the limpid lights of wan selenites;
for red was his desire,

For crimson and rose and ember-glows,
for flame with burning tongue,
For the scarlet skies in a swift sunrise
when a stormy day is young.

He’d have seas of blues, and the living hues
of forest green and fen;
And he yearned for the mirth of the populous earth
and the sanguine blood of men.
He coveted song, and laughter long,
and viands hot, and wine,
Eating pearly cakes of light snowflakes
and drinking thin moonshine.

He twinkled his feet, as he thought of the meat,
of pepper, and punch galore;
And he tripped unaware on his slanting stair,
and like a meteor,
A star in flight, ere Yule one night
flickering down he fell
From his laddery path to a foaming bath
in the windy Bay of Bel.

He began to think, lest he melt and sink,
what in the moon to do,
When a fisherman’s boat found him far afloat
to the amazement of the crew,
Caught in their net all shimmering wet
in a phosphorescent sheen
Of bluey whites and opal lights
and delicate liquid green.

Against his wish with the morning fish
they packed him back to land:
‘You had best get a bed in an inn’, they said;
‘the town is near at hand’.
Only the knell of one slow bell
high in the Seaward Tower
Announced the news of his moonsick cruise.

Not a hearth was laid, not a breakfast made,
and dawn was cold and damp.
There were ashes for fire, and for grass the mire,
for the sun a smoking lamp
In a dim back-street. Not a man did he meet,
no voice was raised in song;
There were snores instead, for all folk were abed
and still would slumber long.

He knocked as he passed on doors locked fast,
and called and cried in vain,
Till he came to an inn that had light within,
and tapped at a window-pane.
A drowsy cook gave a surly look,
and ‘What do you want?’ said he.
‘I want fire and gold and songs of old
and red wine flowing free!’

‘You won’t get them here’, said the cook with a leer,
‘but you may come inside.
Silver I lack and silk to my back—
maybe I’ll let you bide’.
A silver gift the latch to lift,
a pearl to pass the door;
For a seat by the cook in the ingle-nook
it cost him twenty more.

For hunger or drouth naught passed his mouth
till he gave both crown and cloak;
And all that he got, in an earthen pot
broken and black with smoke,
Was porridge cold and two days old
to eat with a wooden spoon.
For puddings of Yule with plums, poor fool,
he arrived so much too sooo:
An unwary guest on a lunatic quest
from the Mountains of the Moon.

tolkien-drinks

Guy de Maupassant’s “Waiter, A Glass Of Beer!”

book
Today is the birthday of French writer Guy de Maupassant. He was a prolific writer, very popular during his lifetime, and “considered one of the fathers of the modern short story and one of the form’s finest exponents.” He wrote half-a-dozen novels and around 240 short stories. One of them was entitled “Waiter, A Glass of Beer!,” although since the original was in French, it’s sometimes translated as “Waiter, A Bock!” It’s a somewhat melancholy tale, but there’s a couple of great quotes in the story, like how the barfly describes his life:

I get up out of bed at noon. I come here, I have a meal, I drink beer, I wait for the evening, I have dinner, I drink beer, and then, about half-past one in the morning, I go home to bed again, because, you see, they close at that hour—which is a nuisance. I have probably spent six years out of the last ten on this seat, in this corner, and the rest of the time in bed—none of it anywhere else. Occasionally I have a chat with some of the guests.

And in the “Bock” version of the story, the barfly is referred to as a “regular” in the beer bar, but in the “glass of beer” version they use an interesting term I hadn’t heard before: a “beerite,” which he describes as “one of those habitual frequenters of beer-palaces who come in the morning when the doors open, and leave when they close for the night.” I may have to try to get that word back into common usage, if indeed it ever was.

Because it’s in the public domain, several versions are available online. I’ve reprinted the Bartelby version below, but you can see others, such as one of the Bock versions at Classic Short Stories or at Google Books’ version at The Complete Short Stories of Guy de Maupassant. Enjoy.

Guy_de_Maupassant_fotograferad_av_Félix_Nadar_1888
A photograph of Guy de Passant taken in 1888.


‘Waiter, a Glass of Beer!’

I WAS going nowhere in particular. I was merely taking a stroll after dinner. I passed the Lyonnais Bank, the Rue Vivienne, and other streets besides. Suddenly I halted before a half-empty beer-palace. With no special object in view—for I was not thirsty—I went in.

Casting a glance about for a comfortable place, I took a seat next to a man who looked rather old, and was smoking a cheap clay pipe, which was as black as coal. Half a dozen glass saucers piled up on the table in front of him indicated the number of glasses he had already consumed. I paid no closer attention to my neighbor, recognizing him at once for a “beerite,” one of those habitual frequenters of beer-palaces who come in the morning when the doors open, and leave when they close for the night. He was untidy, and bald on the top of his head, a shock of long, greasy, pepper-and-salt hair falling upon his coat collar. His clothes, which were too loose, had apparently been made at a time when he was stouter. One suspected that his trousers were not fastened on tight, and that every ten yards the wearer would have to stop and pull up that erratic garment. Had he a waistcoat on? The bare thought of his boots, and of what they might contain, made me shudder. His frayed cuffs were a deep black all round the edges—just like his nails.

No sooner had I sat down beside this individual, than he coolly addressed me:

“How are you?”

I turned toward him in surprise, and looked him over. Then he resumed:

“You don’t recognize me?”

“No.”

“Des Barrets.”

I was dumfounded. It was Count Jean des Barrets, an intimate friend of college days. I shook hands with him, but was too much perturbed to bring out a syllable. At last I stammered:

“And you—how are you?”

To which he placidly replied:

“I might be worse.”

That was all he said. I tried to be civil, and racked my brain for an observation to make. At last I put the question:

“And—er—what are you doing at present?”

He answered in a tone of resignation:

“As you see.”

I felt myself blushing. Nevertheless, I braved it out:

“But every day, I mean?”

After puffing out an enormous cloud of smoke, he replied:

“It’s the same thing every day.”

Thereupon, giving the marble surface of the table a rat-tat-tat with a copper coin, he exclaimed:

“Waiter, two glasses of beer!”

A distant voice repeated, “Two glasses of beer!” A voice still more distant shouted a strident “Here you are!” Then appeared a man in a white apron, carrying two glasses, from which he spilt a few yellow drops as he shuffled speedily across the sanded floor.

Des Barrets emptied his glass at a single draft, and put it back on the table, sucking off the foam which had remained on his mustache. After this he inquired:

“Anything new?”

I really had nothing new to tell him, and so I muttered:

“No, old chap, nothing that I know of. I—I’m in business.”

In the same even tone he asked me:

“Oh! And do you find that amusing?”

“No. But it can’t be helped. A fellow must do something or other.”

“Why so?”

“Well—er—so as to have his time occupied.”

“What’s the use of that? I never do anything, as you see—no, not a thing. If one is poor, I understand that one must work. But as long as one has anything to live upon, then it’s quite unnecessary. Work—why work? Are you doing it for yourself or for others? If you are doing it for yourself, I suppose you enjoy it, and then it’s all right; if you do it for somebody else, you’re an idiot!”

Then, resting his pipe on the marble slab, he again cried out aloud:

“Waiter, a glass of beer!”

Turning back to me, he continued:

“Talking makes me thirsty. I am not used to it. No, I have no occupation; I do nothing but simply grow old. I shall have nothing to grieve for when I die. This beer-palace will be my only parting memory. No wife—no children—no cares—no worry. That’s the best way.”

He drained the tall glass brought him, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and took to his pipe once more.

I was stupefied. Presently I said:

“But you have not always been like this?”

“I beg your pardon, always; ever since I left college.”

“But this is no life for you, my dear fellow! Why, it’s horrible! Surely you have something to do—you must have friends—you must be attached to somebody or something?”

“Not at all. I get up out of bed at noon. I come here, I have a meal, I drink beer, I wait for the evening, I have dinner, I drink beer, and then, about half-past one in the morning, I go home to bed again, because, you see, they close at that hour—which is a nuisance. I have probably spent six years out of the last ten on this seat, in this corner, and the rest of the time in bed—none of it anywhere else. Occasionally I have a chat with some of the guests.”

“But when you first came to Paris, what did you do, to start with?”

“I took my degree—at the Café de Médicis.”

“And what did you do next?”

“Next? Oh, I crossed the river, and came here!”

“Why did you take that much trouble?”

“Well, you know, a fellow can hardly stay in the Latin Quarter all his life. The students are too noisy. I shall never move again, now. Waiter, a glass of beer!”

I thought he was making game of me, and so persisted:

“Now, look here, tell me the truth! You have had some great sorrow, haven’t you? some unfortunate love-affair perhaps? You certainly look like a man who has been hard hit by fate. Tell me—how old are you?”

“Thirty-three; but I look at least forty-five.”

His wrinkled face, which was none too clean, might indeed almost have belonged to an old man. From the top of his skull fluttered a wisp or two of hair above some skin of a doubtful color. He had enormous eyebrows, a heavy mustache, and a thick, shaggy beard. There appeared to my vision—I can scarcely tell why—a basin full of dark water, in which he had attempted to wash.

“Yes,” said I, “you look older than you are. Surely you must have had some trouble.”

“None in the world, I tell you. I have aged because I never take any exercise. There’s nothing worse for people than this life in cafés.”

Still I could not believe him:

“Ah, then you’ve been a bit gay! One doesn’t get bald like that without running after the women a good deal.”

He tranquilly shook his head, sowing his coat collar with little white particles that fell from his last remaining locks.

“No,” he remarked, “I have always behaved myself.” And raising his eyes to the chandelier overhead, he added, “If I’m bald, the gas is to blame. It’s frightfully bad for the hair. Waiter, a glass of beer!—You don’t seem thirsty?”

“No, thanks. But really, your case is interesting. When did this—er—apathy set in? It isn’t normal; it isn’t natural. There’s something beneath all this.”

“Well, yes—it dates back a long way. I’ll tell you about it.”…

“Waiter, a glass of beer!”

The glass that was brought him he gulped down at one swallow. Only, in taking up his pipe again, as his hand trembled, he let it drop, and it broke. This caused him a gesture of despair, and drew from him the complaint:

“Well, now, that’s really a tragedy, that is. It’ll take me a month to color another.”

And through the immense room, now full of tobacco-smoke and beer-drinkers, resounded again his everlasting cry:

“Waiter, a glass of beer!” Only this time he added, “And a new pipe!”