Christopher Smart’s “The Hop-Garden”

hop-leaf
Christopher Smart was an English poet. Born in 1722, he “was a major contributor to two popular magazines and a friend to influential cultural icons like Samuel Johnson and Henry Fielding. Smart, a high church Anglican, was widely known throughout London.” He had some goofy nicknames, such as “Kit Smart”, “Kitty Smart”, and “Jack Smart.”

Christopher_Smart

Here’s some basic info about him from Wikipedia:

Smart was infamous as the pseudonymous midwife “Mrs. Mary Midnight” and widespread accounts of his father-in-law, John Newbery, locking him away in a mental asylum for many years over Smart’s supposed religious “mania”. Even after Smart’s eventual release, a negative reputation continued to pursue him as he was known for incurring more debt than he could repay; this ultimately led to his confinement in debtors’ prison until his death.

Smart’s two most widely known works are A Song to David and Jubilate Agno, both at least partly written during his confinement in asylum. However, Jubilate Agno was not published until 1939 and A Song to David received mixed reviews until the 19th century. To his contemporaries, Smart was known mainly for his many contributions in the journals The Midwife and The Student, along with his famous Seaton Prize poems and his mock epic The Hilliad. Although he is primarily recognised as a religious poet, his poetry includes various other themes, such as his theories on nature and his promotion of English nationalism.

hop-garden-book

One of his longer poems was called “The Hop-Garden” and was first published in 1752. It was originally part of Poems on Several Occasions, an early collection of Smart’s poems. Here’s how Wikipedia describes it:

The poem is rooted the Virgilian georgic and Augustan literature; it is one of the first long poems published by Smart. The poem is literally about a hop garden, and, in the Virgilian tradition, attempts to instruct the audience in how to farm hops properly.

While the poem deals with natural and scientific principles, there is a strong autobiographical tendency. While the poem marks Smart’s classical and Latin influences, it also reveals Smart’s close association and influence with Miltonic poetic form, especially with the reliance on Miltonic blank verse.

The poem is divided into two books.

THE HOP-GARDEN.

A GEORGIC.

BOOK the FIRST.

THE land that answers best the farmer’s care,
And silvers to maturity the Hop:
When to inhume the plants; to turn the glebe;
And wed the tendrils to th’ aspiring poles:
Under what sign to pluck the crop, and how
To cure, and in capacious sacks infold,
I teach in verse Miltonian. Smile the muse,
And meditate an honour to that land
Where first I breath’d, and struggled into life
Impatient, Cantium, to be call’d thy son.
Oh! cou’d I emulate Dan Sydney’s muse,
Thy Sydney, Cantium—He from court retir’d
In Penshurst’s sweet elysium sung delight,
Sung transport to the soft-responding streams
Of Medway, and enliven’d all her groves:

While ever near him, goddess of the green,
Fair Pembroke [sister to Sir Philip Sydney] sat, and smil’d immense applause.
With vocal fascination charm’d the Hours
Unguarded left Heav’ns adamantine gate,
And to his lyre, swift as the winged sounds
That skim the air, danc’d unperceiv’d away.
Had I such pow’r, no peasants toil, no hops
Shou’d e’er debase my lay: far nobler themes,
The high atchievements of thy warrior kings
Shou’d raise my thoughts, and dignify my song.
But I, young rustic, dare not leave my cot,
For so enlarg’d a sphere—ah! muse beware,
Lest the loud larums of the braying trump,
Lest the deep drum shou’d drown thy tender reed,
And mar its puny joints: me, lowly swain,
Every unshaven arboret, me the lawns,
Me the voluminous Medway’s silver wave,
Content inglorious, and the hopland shades!
Yeomen, and countrymen attend my song:
Whether you shiver in the marshy Weald [commonly, but improperly call’d, the Wild],
Egregious shepherds of unnumber’d flocks,
Whose fleeces, poison’d into purple, deck

All Europe’s kings: or in fair Madum’s [Maidstone] vale
Imparadis’d, blest denizons, ye dwell;
Or Dorovernia’s [Canterbury] awful tow’rs ye love:
Or plough Tunbridgia’s salutiferous hills
Industrious, and with draughts chalybiate heal’d,
Confess divine Hygeia’s blissful seat;
The muse demands your presence, ere she tune
Her monitory voice; observe her well,
And catch the wholesome dictates as they fall.
‘Midst thy paternal acres, Farmer, say
Has gracious heav’n bestow’d one field, that basks
Its loamy bosom in the mid-day sun,
Emerging gently from the abject vale,
Nor yet obnoxious to the wind, secure
There shall thou plant thy hop. This soil, perhaps,
Thou’lt say, will fill my garners. Be it so.
But Ceres, rural goddess, at the best
Meanly supports her vot’ry’, enough for her,
If ill-persuading hunger she repell,
And keep the soul from fainting: to enlarge,
To glad the heart, to sublimate the mind,
And wing the flagging spirits to the sky,
Require th’ united influence and aid
Of Bacchus, God of hops, with Ceres join’d

‘Tis he shall gen’rate the buxom beer.
Then on one pedestal, and hand in hand,
Sculptur’d in Parian stone (so gratitude
Indites) let the divine co-part’ners rise.
Stands eastward in thy field a wood? ’tis well.
Esteem it as a bulwark of thy wealth,
And cherish all its branches; tho’ we’ll grant,
Its leaves umbrageous may intercept
The morning rays, and envy some small share
Of Sol’s beneficence to the infant germ.
Yet grutch not that: when whistling Eurus comes,
With all his worlds of insects in thy lands
To hyemate, and monarchize o’er all
Thy vegetable riches, then thy wood
Shall ope it’s arms expansive, and embrace
The storm reluctant, and divert its rage.
Armies of animalc’les urge their way
In vain: the ventilating trees oppose
Their airy march. They blacken distant plains.
This site for thy young nursery obtain’d,
Thou hast begun auspicious, if the soil
(As sung before) be loamy; this the hop
Loves above others, this is rich, is deep,
Is viscous, and tenacious of the pole.
Yet maugre all its native worth, it may
Be meliorated with warm compost. See!

Yon craggy mountain [Boxley-Hill, which extends through great part of Kent], whose fastidious head,
Divides the star-set hemisphere above,
And Cantium’s plains beneath; the Appennine
Of a free Italy, whose chalky sides
With verdant shrubs dissimilarly gay,
Still captivate the eye, while at his feet
The silver Medway glides, and in her breast
Views the reflected landskip, charm’d she views
And murmurs louder ectasy below.
Here let us rest awhile, pleas’d to behold
Th’ all-beautiful horizon’s wide expanse,
Far as the eagle’s ken. Here tow’ring spires
First catch the eye, and turn the thoughts to heav’n.
The lofty elms in humble majesty
Bend with the breeze to shade the solemn groves,
And spread an holy darkness; Ceres there
Shines in her golden vesture. Here the meads
Enrich’d by Flora’s daedal hand, with pride
Expose their spotted verdure. Nor are you
Pomona absent; you ‘midst th’ hoary leaves
Swell the vermilion cherry; and on you trees
Suspend the pippen’s palatable gold.
There old Sylvanus in that moss-grown grot
Dwells with his wood-nymphs: they with chaplets green
And russet mantles oft bedight, aloft

From yon bent oaks, in Medway’s bosom fair
Wonder at silver bleak, and prickly pearch,
That swiftly thro’ their floating forests glide.
Yet not even these—these ever-varied scenes
Of wealth and pleasure can engage my eyes
T’ o’erlook the lowly hawthorn, if from thence
The thrush, sweet warbler, chants th’ unstudied lays
Which Phoebus’ self vaulting from yonder cloud
Refulgent, with enliv’ning ray inspires.
But neither tow’ring spires, nor lofty elms,
Nor golden Ceres, nor the meadows green,
Nor orchats, nor the russet-mantled nymphs,
Which to the murmurs of the Medway dance,
Nor sweetly warbling thrush, with half those charms
Attract my eyes, as yonder hop-land close,
Joint-work of art and nature, which reminds
The muse, and to her theme the wand’rer calls.
Here then with pond’rous vehicles and teams
Thy rustics send, and from the caverns deep
Command them bring the chalk: thence to the kiln
Convey, and temper with Vulcanian fires.
Soon as ’tis form’d, thy lime with bounteous hand
O’er all thy lands disseminate; thy lands
Which first have felt the soft’ning spade, and drank
The strength’ning vapours from nutricious marl.

This done, select the choicest hop, t’ insert
Fresh in the opening glebe. Say then, my muse,
Its various kinds, and from th’ effete and vile,
The eligible separate with care.
The noblest species is by Kentish wights
The Master-hop yclep’d. Nature to him
Has giv’n a stouter stalk, patient of cold,
Or Phoebus ev’n in youth, his verdant blood
In brisk saltation circulates and flows
Indesinently vigorous: the next
Is arid, fetid, infecund, and gross
Significantly styl’d the Fryar: the last
Is call’d the Savage, who in ev’ry wood,
And ev’ry hedge unintroduc’d intrudes.
When such the merit of the candidates,
Easy is the election; but, my friend
Would’st thou ne’er fail, to Kent direct thy way,
Where no one shall be frustrated that seeks
Ought that is great or good. Hail, Cantium, hail!
Illustrious parent of the finest fruits,
Illustrious parent of the best of men!
For thee Antiquity’s thrice sacred springs

Placidly stagnant at their fountain head,
I rashly dare to trouble (if from thence,
If ought for thy util’ty I can drain)
And in thy towns adopt th’ Ascraean muse.
Hail heroes, hail invaluable gems,
Splendidly rough within your native mines,
To luxury unrefined, better far
To shake with unbought agues in your weald,
Than dwell a slave to passion and to wealth,
Politely paralytic in the town!
Fav’rites of heav’n! to whom the general doom
Is all remitted, who alone possess
Of Adam’s sons fair Eden—rest ye here,
Nor seek an earthly good above the hop;
A good! untasted by your ancient kings,
And almost to your very sires unknown.
In those blest days when great Eliza reign’d
O’er the adoring nation, when fair peace
Or spread an unstain’d olive round the land,
Or laurell’d war did teach our winged fleets
To lord it o’er the world, when our brave sires
Drank valour from uncauponated beer;
Then th’ hop (before an interdicted plant,
Shun’d like fell aconite) began to hang
Its folded floscles from the golden vine,
And bloom’d a shade to Cantium’s sunny shores

Delightsome, and in chearful goblets laught
Potent, what time Aquarius’ urn impends
To kill the dulsome day—potent to quench
The Syrian ardour, and autumnal ills
To heal with mild potations; sweeter far
Than those which erst the subtile Hengist mix’d
T’ inthral voluptuous Vortigern. He, with love
Emasculate and wine, the toils of war,
Neglected, and to dalliance vile and sloth
Emancipated, saw th’ incroaching Saxons
With unaffected eyes; his hand which ought
T’ have shook the spear of justice, soft and smooth,
Play’d ravishing divisions on the lyre:
This Hengist mark’d, and (for curs’d insolence
Soon fattens on impunity! and becomes
Briareus from a dwarf) fair Thanet gain’d.
Nor stopt he here; but to immense attempts
Ambition sky-aspiring led him on
Adventrous. He an only daughter rear’d,
Roxena, matchless maid! nor rear’d in vain.
Her eagle-ey’d callidity, grave deceit,
And fairy fiction rais’d above her sex,
And furnish’d her with thousand various wiles
Preposterous, more than female; wondrous fair

She was, and docile, which her pious nurse
Observ’d, and early in each female fraud
Her ‘gan initiate: well she knew to smile,
Whene’er vexation gall’d her; did she weep?
‘Twas not sincere, the fountains of her eyes
Play’d artificial streams, yet so well forc’d
They look’d like nature; for ev’n art to her
Was natural, and contrarieties
Seem’d in Roxena congruous and allied.
Such was she, when brisk Vortigern beheld,
Ill-fated prince! and lov’d her. She perceiv’d,
Soon she perceiv’d her conquest; soon she told,
With hasty joy transported, her old sire.
The Saxon inly smil’d, and to his isle
The willing prince invited, but first bad
The nymph prepare the potions; such as fire
The blood’s meand’ring rivulets, and depress
To love the soul. Lo! at the noon of night
Thrice Hecate invok’d the maid—and thrice
The goddess stoop’d assent; forth from a cloud
She stoop’d, and gave the philters pow’r to charm.
These in a splendid cup of burnish’d gold
The lovely sorceress mix’d, and to the prince
Health, peace, and joy propin’d, but to herself
Mutter’d dire exorcisms, and wish’d effect
To th’ love-creating draught: lowly she bow’d
Fawning insinuation bland, that might

Deceive Laertes’ son; her lucid orbs
Shed copiously the oblique rays; her face
Like modest Luna’s shone, but not so pale,
And with no borrow’d lustre; on her brow
Smil’d Fallacy, while summoning each grace,
Kneeling she gave the cup. The prince (for who!
Who cou’d have spurn’d a suppliant so divine?)
Drank eager, and in ecstasy devour’d
Th’ ambrosial perturbation; mad with love
He clasp’d her, and in Hymeneal bands
At once the nymph demanded and obtain’d.
Now Hengist, all his ample wish fulfill’d,
Exulted; and from Kent th’ uxorious prince
Exterminated, and usurp’d his seat.
Long did he reign; but all-devouring time
Has raz’d his palace walls—Perchance on them
Grows the green hop, and o’er his crumbled bust
In spiral twines ascends the scancile pole.—
But now to plant, to dig, to dung, to weed;
Tasks how indelicate? demand the muse.
Come, fair magician, sportive Fancy come,
With thy unbounded imagery; child of thought,
From thy aeriel citadel descend,
And (for thou canst) assist me. Bring with thee
Thy all-creative Talisman; with thee
The active spirits ideal, tow’ring flights,

That hover o’er the muse-resounding groves,
And all thy colourings, all thy shapes display.
Thou to be here, Experience, so shall I
My rules nor in low prose jejunely say,
Nor in smooth numbers musically err;
But vain is Fancy and Experience vain,
If thou, O Hesiod! Virgil of our land,
Or hear’st thou rather, Milton, bard divine,
Whose greatness who shall imitate, save thee?
If thou O Philips [Mr. John Philips, author of Cyder, a poem] fav’ring dost not hear
Me, inexpert of verse; with gentle hand
Uprear the unpinion’d muse, high on the top
Of that immeasurable mount, that far
Exceeds thine own Plinlimmon, where thou tun’st
With Phoebus’ self thy lyre. Give me to turn
Th’ unwieldly subject with thy graceful ease,
Extol its baseness with thy art; but chief
Illumine, and invigorate with thy fire.
When Phoebus looks thro’ Aries on the spring,
And vernal flow’rs promise the dulcet fruit,
Autumnal pride! delay not then thy setts
In Tellus’ facile bosom to depose
Timely: if thou art wise the bulkiest chuse:
To every root three joints indulge, and form

The Quincunx with well regulated hills.
Soon from the dung-enriched earth, their heads
Thy young plants will uplift their virgin arms,
They’ll stretch, and marriageable claim the pole.
Nor frustrate thou their wishes, so thou may’st
Expect an hopeful issue, jolly Mirth,
Sister of taleful Jocus, tuneful Song,
And fat Good-nature with her honest face.
But yet in the novitiate of their love,
And tenderness of youth suffice small shoots
Cut from the widow’d willow, nor provide
Poles insurmountable as yet. ‘Tis then
When twice bright Phoebus’ vivifying ray,
Twice the cold touch of winter’s icy hand,
They’ve felt; ’tis then we fell sublimer props.
‘Tis then the sturdy woodman’s axe from far
Resounds, resounds, and hark! with hollow groans
Down tumble the big trees, and rushing roll
O’er the crush’d crackling brake, while in his cave
Forlorn, dejected, ‘midst the weeping dryads
Laments Sylvanus for his verdant care.
The ash, or willow for thy use select,
Or storm-enduring chesnut; but the oak
Unfit for this employ, for nobler ends
Reserve untouch’d; she when by time matur’d,
Capacious, of fome British demi-god,
Vernon, or Warren, shall with rapid wing

Infuriate, like Jove’s armour-bearing bird,
Fly on thy foes; They, like the parted waves,
Which to the brazen beak murmuring give way
Amaz’d, and roaring from the fight recede.—
In that sweet month, when to the list’ning swains
Fair Philomel fings love, and every cot
With garlands blooms bedight, with bandage meet
The tendrils bind, and to the tall pole tie,
Else soon, too soon their meretricious arms
Round each ignoble clod they’ll fold, and leave
Averse the lordly prop. Thus, have I heard
Where there’s no mutual tye, no strong connection
Of love-conspiring hearts, oft the young bride
Has prostituted to her slaves her charms,
While the infatuated lord admires
Fresh-budding sprouts, and issue not his own.
Now turn the glebe: soon with correcting hand
When smiling June in jocund dance leads on
Long days and happy hours, from ev’ry vine
Dock the redundant branches, and once more
With the sharp spade thy numerous acres till.
The shovel next must lend its aid, enlarge
The little hillocks, and erase the weeds.
This in that month its title which derives

From great Augustus’ ever sacred name!
Sovereign of Science! master of the Muse!
Neglected Genius’ firm ally! Of worth
Best judge, and best rewarder, whose applause
To bards was fame and fortune! O! ’twas well,
Well did you too in this, all glorious heroes!
Ye Romans!—on Time’s wing you’ve stamp’d his praise,
And time shall bear it to eternity.
Now are our lab’rours crown’d with their reward,
Now bloom the florid hops, and in the stream
Shine in their floating silver, while above
T’embow’ring branches culminate, and form
A walk impervious to the sun; the poles
In comely order stand; and while you cleave
With the small skiff the Medway’s lucid wave,
In comely order still their ranks preserve,
And seem to march along th’ extensive plain.
In neat arrangement thus the men of Kent,
With native oak at once adorn’d and arm’d,
Intrepid march’d; for well they knew the cries
Of dying Liberty, and Astraea’s voice,
Who as she fled, to echoing woods complain’d
Of tyranny, and William; like a god,
Refulgent stood the conqueror, on his troops
He sent his looks enliv’ning as the sun’s,
But on his foes frown’d agony, frown’d death.

On his left side in bright emblazonry
His falchion burn’d; forth from his sevenfold shield
A basilisk shot adamant; his brow
Wore clouds of fury!—on that with plumage crown’d
Of various hue sat a tremendous cone:
Thus sits high-canopied above the clouds,
Terrific beauty of nocturnal skies,
Northern Aurora [Aurora Borealis, or lights in the air; a phoenomenon which of late years has been very frequent here, and in all the more northern countries]; she thro’ th’ azure air
Shoots, shoots her trem’lous rays in painted streaks
Continual, while waving to the wind
O’er Night’s dark veil her lucid tresses flow.
The trav’ler views th’ unseasonable day
Astound, the proud bend lowly to the earth,
The pious matrons tremble for the world.
But what can daunt th’ insuperable souls
Of Cantium’s matchless sons? On they proceed,
All innocent of fear; each face express’d
Contemptuous admiration, while they view’d
The well-fed brigades of embroider’d slaves
That drew the sword for gain. First of the van,
With an enormous bough, a shepherd swain
Whistled with rustic notes; but such as show’d
A heart magnanimous: The men of Kent

Follow the tuneful swain, while o’er their heads
The green leaves whisper, and the big boughs bend.
‘Twas thus the Thracian, whose all-quick’ning lyre
The floods inspir’d, and taught the rocks to feel,
Play’d before dancing Haemus, to the tune,
The lute’s soft tune! The flutt’ring branches wave,
The rocks enjoy it, and the rivulets hear,
The hillocks skip, emerge the humble vales,
And all the mighty mountain nods applause.
The conqueror view’d them, and as one that sees
The vast abrupt of Scylla, or as one
That from th’ oblivious Lethaean streams
Has drank eternal apathy, he stood.
His host an universal panic seiz’d
Prodigious, inopine; their armour shook,
And clatter’d to the trembling of their limbs;
Some to the walking wilderness gan run
Confus’d, and in th’ inhospitable shade
For shelter sought—Wretches! they shelter find,
Eternal shelter in the arms of death!
Thus when Aquarius pours out all his urn
Down on some lonesome heath, the traveller
That wanders o’er the wint’ry waste, accepts
The invitation of some spreading beech
Joyous; but soon the treach’rous gloom betrays
Th’ unwary visitor, while on his head
Th’ inlarging drops in double show’rs descend.

And now no longer in disguise the men
Of Kent appear; down they all drop their boughs,
And shine in brazen panoply divine.
Enough—Great William (for full well he knew
How vain would be the contest) to the sons
Of glorious Cantium, gave their lives, and laws,
And liberties secure, and to the prowess
Of Kentish wights, like Caesar, deign’d to yield.
Caesar and William! Hail immortal worthies,
Illustrious vanquish’d! Cantium, if to them,
Posterity will all her chiefs unborn,
Ought similar, ought second has to boast.
Once more (so prophecies the Muse) thy sons
Shall triumph, emulous of their sires—till then
With olive, and with hop-land garlands crown’d,
O’er all thy land reign Plenty, reign fair Peace.

Smart-hop-garden
This illustration accompanied the second book. The British Museum has it in their collection, and they describe it as “a woman sitting in a vat, two others lifting a man in to join her, an amused crowd looking on.” Interestingly enough, the illustration appears to show an old ritual associated with hop-picking. According to the poem, it seems to involve a “festive ritual that played a part in the annual hop harvest, where a young woman, and a young man, are placed in a container of hops and covered up by it.”

Many years later, in 1931, George Orwell went hop-picking and made the following entry in his diary for September 19, 1931:

On the last morning, when we had picked the last field, there was a queer game of catching the women and putting them in the bins. Very likely there will be something about this in the Golden Bough. It is evidently an old custom, and all harvests have some custom of this kind attached to them.

The only reference I could find in the Golden Bough was this. “In hop-picking, if a well-dressed stranger passes the hop-yard, he is seized by the women, tumbled into the bin, covered with leaves, and not released till he has paid a fine.” One scholar speculates:

In any case, the ritual in the oldest version – Smart’s – seems to be some kind of fertility ritual: a male and a female hop picker are submerged together in a container of hops, which are the bounty of the harvest. It also seems to include some kind of wealth-redistribution element, where the other pickers claim a “largesse” or “fine” from those submerged. Whether it was for the honor, or just because they were the most efficient pickers, I don’t know, but it’s interesting either way. Ron Bateman notes that at least in Orwell’s day, the ritual took place on the last day of hop-picking, which I think strongly supports the idea of it being some vestige of a pagan fertility rite (or, even, the whole of the rite, with its purpose forgotten): having completed the harvest, the rite would help appease the field, its spirits, the gods, etc. to ensure the next year’s harvest would also be plentiful.

Anyway, here’s the second part of the poem.

THE HOP-GARDEN.

A GEORGIC.

BOOK the SECOND.

AT length the Muse her destin’d task resumes
With joy; agen o’er all her hop-land groves
She longs t’ expatiate free of wing. Long while
For a much-loving, much-lov’d youth she wept,
And sorrow’d silence o’er th’ untimely urn.
Hush then, effeminate sobs; and thou, my heart,
Rebel to grief no more—And yet a while,
A little while, indulge the friendly tears.
O’er the wild world, like Noah’s dove, in vain
I seek the olive peace, around me wide
See! see! the wat’ry waste—In vain, forlorn
I call the Phoenix fair Sincerity;
Alas!—extinguish’d to the skies she fled,
And left no heir behind her. Where is now
Th’ eternal smile of goodness? Where is now

That all-extensive charity of soul,
So rich in sweetness, that the classic sounds
In elegance Augustan cloath’d, the wit
That flow’d perennial, hardly were observ’d,
Or, if observ’d, set off a brighter gem.
How oft, and yet how seldom did it seem!
Have I enjoy’d his converse?—When we met,
The hours how swift they sweetly fled, and till
Agen I saw him, how they loiter’d. Oh!
THEOPHILUS [Mr. Theophilus Wheeler, of Christ-College, Cambridge], thou dear departed soul,
What flattering tales thou told’st me? How thou’dst hail
My Muse, and took’st imaginary walks
All in my hopland groves! Stay yet, oh stay!
Thou dear deluder, thou hast seen but half—
He’s gone! and ought that’s equal to his praise
Fame has not for me, tho’ she prove most kind.
Howe’er this verse be sacred to thy name,
These tears, the last sad duty of a friend.
Oft i’ll indulge the pleasurable pain
Of recollection; oft on Medway’s banks
I’ll muse on thee full pensive; while her streams
Regardful ever of my grief, shall flow
In sullen silence silverly along
The weeping shores—or else accordant with
My loud laments, shall ever and anon
Make melancholy music to the shades,

The hopland shades, that on her banks expose
Serpentine vines and flowing locks of gold.
Ye smiling nymphs, th’ inseparable train
Of saffron Ceres; ye, that gamesome dance,
And sing to jolly Autumn, while he stands
With his right hand poizing the scales of heav’n,
And with his left grasps Amalthea’s horn:
Young chorus of fair bacchanals, descend,
And leave a while the sickle; yonder hill,
Where stand the loaded hop-poles, claims your care.
There mighty Bacchus stradling cross the bin,
Waits your attendance—There he glad reviews
His paunch, approaching to immensity
Still nearer, and with pride of heart surveys
Obedient mortals, and the world his own.
See! from the great metropolis they rush,
Th’ industrious vulgar. They, like prudent bees,
In Kent’s wide garden roam, expert to crop
The flow’ry hop, and provident to work,
Ere winter numb their sunburnt hands, and winds
Engoal them, murmuring in their gloomy cells.
From these, such as appear the rest t’ excell
In strength and young agility, select.
These shall support with vigour and address
The bin-man’s weighty office; now extract
From the sequacious earth the pole, and now

Unmarry from the closely clinging vine.
O’er twice three pickers, and no more, extend
The bin-man’s sway; unless thy ears can bear
The crack of poles continual, and thine eyes
Behold unmoved the hurrying peasant tear
Thy wealth, and throw it on the thankless ground.
But first the careful planter will consult
His quantity of acres, and his crop,
How many and how large his kilns; and then
Proportion’d to his wants the hands provide.
But yet, of greater consequence and cost,
One thing remains unsung, a man of faith
And long experience, in whose thund’ring voice
Lives hoarse authority, potent to quell
The frequent frays of the tumultuous crew.
He shall preside o’er all thy hop-land store,
Severe dictator! His unerring hand,
And eye inquisitive, in heedful guise,
Shall to the brink the measure fill, and fair
On the twin registers the work record.
And yet I’ve known them own a female reign,
And gentle Marianne’s [the author’s youngest Sister] soft Orphean voice
Has hymn’d sweet lessons of humanity
To the wild brutal crew. Oft her command
Has sav’d the pillars of the hopland state,

The lofty poles from ruin, and sustain’d,
Like ANNA, or ELIZA, her domain,
With more than manly dignity. Oft I’ve seen,
Ev’n at her frown the boist’rous uproar cease,
And the mad pickers, tam’d to diligence,
Cull from the bin the sprawling sprigs, and leaves
That stain the sample, and its worth debase.
All things thus settled and prepared, what now
Can let the planters purposes? Unless
The Heav’ns frown dissent, and ominous winds
Howl thro’ the concave of the troubled sky.
And oft, alas! the long experienc’d wights
(Oh! could they too prevent them) storms foresee.
For, as the storm rides on the rising clouds,

Fly the fleet wild-geese far away, or else
The heifer towards the zeinth rears her head,
And with expanded nostrils snuffs the air:
The swallows too their airy circuits weave,
And screaming skim the brook; and fen-bred frogs
Forth from their hoarse throats their old grutch recite:
Or from her earthly coverlets the ant
Heaves her huge eggs along the narrow way:
Or bends Thaumantia’s variegated bow
Athwart the cope of heav’n: or sable crows
Obstreperous of wing, in crouds combine:
Besides, unnumber’d troops of birds marine,
And Asia’s feather’d flocks, that in the muds
Of flow’ry-edg’d Cayster wont to prey,
Now in the shallows duck their speckled heads,
And lust to lave in vain, their unctious plumes
Repulsive baffle their efforts: Next hark
How the curs’d raven, with her harmful voice,
Invokes the rain, ahd croaking to herself,
Struts on some spacious solitary shore.
Nor want thy servants and thy wife at home
Signs to presage the show’r; for in the hall
Sheds Niobe her prescious tears, and warns
Beneath thy leaden tubes to fix the vase,
And catch the falling dew-drops, which supply
Soft water and salubrious, far the best
To soak thy hops, and brew thy generous beer.

But tho’ bright Phoebus smile, and in the skies
The purple-rob’d serenity appear;
Tho’ every cloud be fled, yet if the rage
Of Boreas, or the blasting East prevail,
The planter has enough to check his hopes,
And in due bounds confine his joy; for see
The ruffian winds, in their abrupt career,
Leave not a hop behind, or at the best
Mangle the circling vine, and intercept
The juice nutricious: Fatal means, alas!
Their colour and condition to destroy.
Haste then, ye peasants; pull the poles, the hops;
Where are the bins? Run, run, ye nimble maids,
Move ev’ry muscle, ev’ry nerve extend,
To save our crop from ruin, and ourselves.
Soon as bright Chanticleer explodes the night
With flutt’ring wings, and hymns the new-born day,
The bugle-horn inspire, whose clam’rous bray
Shall rouse from sleep the rebel rout, and tune
To temper for the labours of the day.
Wisely the several stations of the bins
By lot determine. Justice this, and this
Fair Prudence does demand; for not without
A certain method cou’dst thou rule the mob
Irrational, nor every where alike
Fair hangs the hop to tempt the picker’s hand.

Now see the crew mechanic might and main
Labour with lively diligence, inspir’d
By appetie of gain and lust of praise:
What mind so petty, servile, and debas’d,
As not to know ambition? Her great sway
From Colin Clout to Emperors she exerts.
To err is human, human to be vain.
‘Tis vanity, and mock desire of fame,
That prompts the rustic, on the steeple top
Sublime, to mark the outlines of his shoe,
And in the area to engrave his name.
With pride of heart the churchwarden surveys,
High o’er the bellfry, girt with birds and flow’rs,
His story wrote in capitals: “‘Twas I
“That bought the font; and I repair’d the pews.”
With pride like this the emulating mob
Strive for the mastery—who first may fill
The bellying bin, and cleanest cull the hops.
Nor ought retards, unless invited out
By Sol’s declining, and the evening’s calm,
Leander leads Laetitia to the scene
Of shade and fragrance—Then th’ exulting band
Of pickers male and female, seize the fair
Reluctant, and with boist’rous force and brute,
By cries unmov’d, they bury her in the bin.
Nor does the youth escape—him too they seize,
And in such posture place as best may serve

To hide his charmer’s blushes. Then with shouts
They rend the echoing air, and from them both
(So custom has ordain’d) a largess claim.
Thus much be sung of picking—next succeeds
Th’ important care of curing—Quit the field,
And at the kiln th’ instructive muse attend.
On your hair-cloth eight inches deep, nor more,
Let the green hops lie lightly; next expand
The smoothest surface with the toothy rake.
Thus for is just above; but more it boots
That charcoal flames burn equably below,
The charcoal flames, which from thy corded wood,
Or antiquated poles, with wond’rous skill,
The sable priests of Vulcan shall prepare.
Constant and moderate let the heat ascend;
Which to effect, there are, who with success
Place in the kiln the ventilating fan.
Hail, learned, useful man! [Dr. Hales] whose head and heart
Conspire to make us happy, deign t’ accept
One honest verse; and if thy industry
Has serv’d the hopland cause, the Muse forebodes
This sole invention, both in use and fame,
The mystic fan of Bacchus shall exceed.

When the fourth hour expires, with careful hand
The half-bak’d hops turn over. Soon as time
Has well exhausted twice two glasses more,
They’ll leap and crackle with their bursting seeds,
For use domestic, or for sale mature.
There are, who in the choice of cloth t’enfold
Their wealthy crop, the viler, coarser sort,
With prodigal oeconomy prefer:
All that is good is cheap, all dear that’s base.
Besides, the planter shou’d a bait prepare,
T’ intrap the chapman’s notice, and divert
Shrewd Observation from her busy pry.
When in the bag thy hops the rustic treads,
Let him wear heel-less sandals; nor presume
Their fragrancy barefooted to defile:
Such filthy ways for slaves in Malaga
Leave we to practise—Whence I’ve often seen,
When beautiful Dorinda’s iv’ry hands
Had built the pastry-fabric (food divine
For Christmas gambols and the hour of mirth)
As the dry’d foreign fruit, with piercing eye,
She cull’d suspicious—lo! she starts, she frowns
With indignation at a negro’s nail.
Should’st thou thy harvest for the mart design,
Be thine own factor; nor employ those drones

Who’ve stings, but make no honey, felfish slaves!
That thrive and fatten on the planter’s toil.
What then remains unsung? unless the care
To stack thy poles oblique in comely cones,
Lest rot or rain destroy them—’Tis a sight
Most seemly to behold, and gives, O Winter!
A landskip not unpleasing ev’n to thee.
And now, ye rivals of the hopland state,
Madum and Dorovernia rejoice,
How great amidst such rivals to excel!
Let Grenovicum [Greenwich, where Queen Elizabeth was born] boast (for boast she may)
The birth of great Eliza.—Hail, my queen!
And yet I’ll call thee by a dearer name,
My countrywoman, hail! Thy worth alone
Gives fame to worlds, and makes whole ages glorious!
Let Sevenoaks vaunt the hospitable seat
Of Knoll [the seat of the Duke of Dorset] most ancient: Awefully, my Muse,
These social scenes of grandeur and delight,
Of love and veneration, let me tread.
How oft beneath you oak has amorous Prior
Awaken’d Echo with sweet Chloe’s name!
While noble Sackville heard, hearing approv’d,

Approving, greatly recompens’d. But he,
Alas! has number’d with th’ illustrious dead,
And orphan merit has no guardian now!
Next Shipbourne, tho’ her precincts are confin’d
To narrow limits, yet can shew a train
Of village beauties, pastorally sweet,
And rurally magnificent. Here Fairlawn [the seat of Lord Vane]
Opes her delightful prospects: Dear Fairlawn
There, where at once at variance and agreed,
Nature and art hold dalliance. There where rills
Kiss the green drooping herbage, there where trees,
The tall trees-tremble at th’ approach of heav’n,
And bow their salutation to the sun,
Who fosters all their foliage—These are thine,
Yes, little Shipbourne, boast that these are thine—
And if—But oh!—and if ’tis no disgrace,
The birth of him who now records thy praise.
Nor shalt thou, Mereworth, remain unsung,
Where noble Westmoreland, his country’s friend,
Bids British greatness love the silent shade,
Where piles superb, in classic elegance,
Arise, and all is Roman, like his heart.
Nor Chatham, tho’ it is not thine to shew
The lofty forest or the verdant lawns,

Yet niggard silence shall not grutch thee praise.
The lofty forests by thy sons prepar’d
Becomes the warlike navy, braves the floods,
And gives Sylvanus empire in the main.
Oh that Britannia, in the day of war,
Wou’d not alone Minerva’s valour trust,
But also hear her wisdom! Then her oaks
Shap’d by her own mechanics, wou’d alone
Her island fortify, and fix her fame;
Nor wou’d she weep, like Rachael, for her sons,
Whose glorious blood, in mad profusion,
In foreign lands is shed—and shed in vain.
Now on fair Dover’s topmost cliff I’ll stand,
And look with scorn and triumph on proud France.
Of yore an isthmus jutting from this coast,
Join’d the Britannic to the Gallic shore;
But Neptune on a day, with fury fir’d,
Rear’d his tremendous trident, smote the earth,
And broke th’ unnatural union at a blow.—
“‘Twixt you and you, my servants and my sons,
“Be there (he cried) eternal discord—France
“Shall bow the neck to Cantium’s peerless offspring,
“And as the oak reigns lordly o’er the shrub,
“So shall the hop have homage from the vine.”

Marianne Moore’s Bock Beer Buck

poetry
Marianne Moore was an American poet, born in Missouri today in 1887. Here’s her basic information, from Wikipedia: “Marianne Craig Moore (November 15, 1887 – February 5, 1972) was an American Modernist poet, critic, translator, and editor. Her poetry is noted for formal innovation, precise diction, irony, and wit.”

Marianne_Moore

One of her well-known poems is called “Armor’s Undermining Modesty,” and was written in 1950. Here is a two-stanza excerpt:

Arise, for it is day.
Even gifted scholars lose their way
through faulty etymology.
No wonder we hate poetry,
and new stars and harps and the new moon. If tributes cannot
be implicit,

give me diatribes and the fragrance of iodine,
the cork oak acorn grown in Spain;
the pale-ale-eyed impersonal look
which the sales-placard gives the bock beer buck.
What is more precise than precision? Illusion.

According to the footnote to the poem, the “bock beer buck” Moore referred to was a New Jersey brand called “Old Bohemian Bock Beer,” which was brewed by Eastern Beverage Company of Hammonton. Below is a label of “Old Bohemian Bock Beer” from the year she wrote the poem, 1950.

Old-Bohemian-Bock-Beer-Labels-Eastern-Beverage-Corporation

But according to Moore herself, the inspiration for that line came from a poster, not a beer label, that was advertising their bock beer, and the “buck” refers to the male goat used in both the poster and labels. I don’t know if this is the same poster (probably not) but it was the only one I could find.

old-bohemian-bock-poster

Charles Bukowski’s “Beer”

bukowski
Today is the birthday of American poet, novelist, and short story writer Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920-March 9, 1994). Bukowski was a hard-living individual, as well as a hard drinker. Wikipedia gives a summary of his life, albeit a very brief one.

His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles. His work addresses the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over 60 books. The FBI kept a file on him as a result of his column, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, in the LA underground newspaper Open City.

In 1986 Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife.” Regarding Bukowski’s enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.”

If you haven’t read his work, you’re definitely missing out. I think my favorite quote by him is from an interview he did in Life magazine, in December of 1988. “We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” A collection of his poems, entitled “Love Is a Dog From Hell,” was published in 1977, and includes the poem “Beer.” A few months ago, an Italian animation studio, NERDO, created a short animated film of that poem, and it’s pretty awesome.

Craft Beer & Ale: A Parody of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham

Seuss-logo
Today, of course, is the birthday of Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss. Almost seven years ago my kids were on a Dr. Seuss kick and we read quite a few of his books multiple times, with Green Eggs & Ham emerging as the family favorite. I was playing around with the words one night, as I often do, and decided to see if I could come up with a beer-themed parody of the book. I originally posted the results six years ago, and here they are once again; Craft Beer & Ale, by Dr. J. Enjoy!

CRAFT BEER & ALE

Sam I am

I am Sam

Sam I am

That Sam’s upscale.
That Sam regales.
I do not like that Sam wholesale!

Do you drink
craft beer & ale?
Seuss-2

I do not drink them, Sam, they’re stale.
I do not drink
craft beer & ale.

Would you drink them
weak or strong?

I would not drink them
weak or strong.
I would not drink them, it is wrong.

I do not drink
craft beer & ale.
I do not drink them, Sam, curtail.

Would you drink them with more hops?
Would you drink them chased with schnapps?

I do not drink them
with more hops.
I do not drink them
chased with schnapps.
I do not drink them
weak or strong.
I do not drink them
all night long.
I do not drink
craft beer & ale.
I do not drink them,
Sam, you’re off the trail.

Would you drink them
in a pub?
Would you drink them
at a club?

Not in a pub.
Not at a club.
Not with more hops.
Not chased with schnapps.
I would not drink them
weak or strong.
I would not drink them, it is wrong.
I would not drink craft beer & ale.
I do not drink them, Sam — no sale.

Would you? Could you? In a bar?
Drink them! Drink them! Here they are.

I would not, could not, in a bar.

You may like them. You will see.
You may like them with some cheese!
cheese

I would not, could not with some cheese.
Not in a bar! You let me be.

I do not like them in a pub.
I do not like them at a club.
I do not like them with more hops.
I do not like them chased with schnapps.
I do not like them weak or strong.
I do not like them all night long.
I do not like craft beer & ale.
I do not like them, Sam, you’re beyond the pale.

A stein! A stein!
A stein! A stein!
Could you, would you,
in a stein?

Not in a stein! Not in a stein!
Not with some cheese! Sam! Let me be!
stein

I would not, could not, in a pub.
I could not, would not, at a club.
I will not drink them with more hops.
I will not drink them chased with schnapps.
I will not drink them weak or strong.
I will not drink them, it is wrong.
I do not like craft beer & ale.
I do not like them, Sam, you’ve gone off the rail.

Say! In a glass?
Here in a glass!
Would you, could you,
in a glass?

I would not, could not, in a glass.
glass

Would you, could you, while you dine?

I would not, could not, while I dine.
Not in a glass. Not in a stein.
Not in a bar. Not with some cheese.
I do not drink them, Sam, you see.
Not with more hops. Not in a pub.
Not chased with schnapps. Not in a club.
I will not drink them weak or strong.
I will not drink them all night long.

You do not drink
craft beer & ale?

I do not drink them,
Sam, you make me wail.

Could you, would you,
drink with Charlie?

I would not, could not,
drink with Charlie.

Would you, could you,
with more barley?

I could not, would not,
with more barley,
I will not, will not,
drink with Charlie.

I will not drink them while I dine.
I will not drink them in a stein.
Not in a glass! Not with some cheese.
Not in a bar! You let me be!
I do not drink them in a pub.
I do not drink them at a club.
I do not drink them with more hops.
I do not drink them chased with schnapps.
I do not drink them weak or strong.
I do not drink them IT IS WRONG!

I do not drink craft beer & ale!
I do not drink them, Sam — you fail.

You do not drink them. So you say.
Try them! Try them! And you may.
Try them and you may, I say.

Sam! If you will let me be,
I will try them. You will see.

Seuss-1

Say! I like craft beer & ale!
I do! I like them, Sam, you prevail!
And I would drink them with more barley.
And I would drink with homebrew Charlie…

And I will drink them while I dine.
And in a glass. And in a stein.
And in a bar. And with some cheese.
They are so good, so good, you see!

So I will drink them in a pub.
And I will drink them at a club.
And I will drink them with more hops.
And I will drink them chased with schnapps.
And I will drink them weak or strong.
Say! I will drink them ALL NIGHT LONG!

I do so love
craft beer at home!
Thank you!
Thank you, Sam-Cala-Gione!

ILikeit


All artwork by Rob Davis. Thanks, Rob! All words after Theodore Seuss Geisel by Dr. J. If you’re so inclined, you can also see the original text side by side with my parody at Craft Beer & Ale Compared.

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.

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Twas The Beer Before Christmas: A Brewery Visit From St. Nicholas

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While not widely known, St. Nicholas, among his many patronages includes brewers. He is a patron saint of brewers. The way we think of St. Nick in America begins with the publication of Twas the Night Before Christmas: A Visit From St, Nicholas by Clement C. Moore in 1823. So with my tongue firmly set in my cheek, I decided to rewrite Moore’s masterpiece, moving his visit from the home to the brewery. Hoppy Christmas. Enjoy. For more detail on how this came about, and about the original poem, see below.

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Twas the Beer Before Christmas:
A Brewery Visit From St. Nicholas

‘Twas the beer before Christmas, when down in the brewery
Not a bottle was stirring, not a mouse dared to scurry;
The hoses were hung by the kettle with care
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would drink there;

The bottles, like children, nestled snug in their beds,
While visions of candi sugar fermented their heads;
The brewers, in hoodies, gave just the impression,
They’d all settled down for long winter’s session,

When outside by the tanks there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the brewery to see what was the matter.
Away to the rollup I flew like a flash,
Tore open the lock, the door flew up with a crash.

The moon on the breast of the newly-paved tarmack
Gave the lustre of stout looking velvety black,
When, what to my sobering eyes should appear,
But a miniature delivery wagon, and eight kegs of beer,

With a little old brewmaster, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than fermenting his brewers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

Now, Busch! Now, Rheingold!, now, Pabst and Carling!
On, Schlitz! on, Schmidt! on, Miller and Yuengling!
To the top of the jockey box! To the top of the cask!
Now drink away! drink away! drink away the whole flask!”

As dry hopping that before the wild bittering fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, toast a drink to the sky;
So up to the brewery-top the brewers they flew,
With the wagon full of Beers, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, glasses tinkling, I heard on the roof
The toasting and drinking of each little goof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Out the fermenter St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in red, from his toes to his top,
And his coveralls were soiled with spent grain and hops;
A carton of Beers he had flung on his back,
And his rubber boots squeaked as he opened his pack.

His besotted eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were all rosy, like New Glarus cherry!
His droll little mouth was beseeching our pardon,
And the beard of his chin was as white as Hoegaarden;

The end of a zwickel he held tight in one hand,
While the other held Watermelon Wheat that was canned;
He had a beer belly, that bent two stumpy legs,
That shook when he laughed, like a half-emptied keg.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old brewer,
And I drank when I saw him, for what could be truer;
A wink of his eye as he poured generous heads,
Soon gave me to know he would join us instead;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And emptied the bottles; then sat with a smirk,
And raising his glass, he gave the first toast,
Then each brewer, in turn, drank to his own riposte;

Then he sprang to his wagon, to his brewers gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like a hop torpedo missile.
But I heard his last toast, ere he drove out of here,
“Hoppy Christmas to all, and to all drink good beer.”

santa-watermelon

More About the Original Poem & How This Version Came To Be

In late 2009 — a Saturday night — I read Porter and Alice, my two kids, Twas the Night Before Christmas: A Visit From St, Nicholas by Clement C. Moore. Whenever I read something I know to my children (which happens a lot, kids love repetition) the writer in me edits as I go. I change words as if it was my work, I flatter myself I’m improving it or correcting mistakes. A scatterbrained scheme was hatched as I again read them what’s probably the most famous Christmas poem.

First published in 1823, according to Wikipedia, “it is largely responsible for the conception of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today, including his physical appearance, the night of his visit, his mode of transportation, the number and names of his reindeer, and the tradition that he brings toys to children. Prior to the poem, American ideas about St. Nicholas and other Christmastide visitors varied considerably. The poem has influenced ideas about St. Nicholas and Santa Claus beyond the United States to the rest of the Anglosphere and the world.”

As I’ve written about before, St. Nick is also a Patron Saint of Brewers. So with my tongue firmly set in my cheek, I decided to rewrite Moore’s masterpiece, moving his visit from the home to the brewery.

As it happens, there are a lot of different versions of the poem, with incremental changes having been made over the years. I used, for no particular reason, an edition from Trans-Pacific Radio. Enjoy. Hoppy Christmas. You can also compare the two versions side by side, which also includes the brewers names I’ve used in previous years. The plan is to change those each year.

Feel free to share my version of the poem, with credit if you please, plus a link back here is always appreciated.

UPDATE: Georgia’s Sweetwater Brewing also did their own beer-themed version called Sweetwater’s Night Before Christmas. There’s also another beer-themed one I shared last year, Twas the Brewer’s Night Before Christmas. For many more parodies, check out the Canonical List of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Variations, which contains 849 different variations on the poem.

International Tongue Twister Day

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Today is International Tongue Twister Day, a day to celebrate those expressions that tend to tie your tongue in knots. A tongue-twister is defined as “a phrase that is designed to be difficult to articulate properly, and can be used as a type of spoken (or sung) word game. Some tongue-twisters produce results which are humorous (or humorously vulgar) when they are mispronounced, while others simply rely on the confusion and mistakes of the speaker for their amusement value.” Here are several I managed to uncover that involve beer. Enjoy.

tongue-twister

Brewer Braun brews brown beer (Braubauer Braun braut braunes Bier)

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Bold and brave beer brewers always prepare bitter, brown, Bavarian beer (Biedere brave Bierbauerburschen bereiten beständig bitteres braunes bayrisches Bier)

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Rory the warrior and Roger the worrier were reared wrongly in a rural brewery.

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An old seabear sits on the pier and drinks a pint of beer.

tongue-twister

A canner can can anything that he can,
But a canner can’t can a can, can he?

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Do drunk ducks and drakes drown?

tongue-twister

Betty Botter had some bitter,
“But,” she said, “this bitter’s bitter.
If I brew this bitter better,
It would make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter,
That would make my batter better.”
So she bought a bit of butter –
Better than her bitter butter –
And she baked it in her batter;
And the batter was not bitter.
So ’twas better Betty Botter
Bought a bit of better bitter.

tongue-twister

The bitters Betty Botter bought could make her batter bitter, so she thought she’d better buy some better bitters!

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Note: the blue circle is the pump handle for Ad Hop Tongue Twister, a beer from Ad Hop Brewing in Liverpool, England.

No Beer, No Work

no-beer-no-work
Today, of course, is Labor Day in the U.S. and Canada, celebrated each year on the first Monday in September since 1894, at least federally. Most countries, more than 80, celebrate something similar on May 1, and a few others on different days. In the Bahamas, for example, it’s the first Friday in June and in New Zealand, it’s celebrated the fourth Monday in October, while in Australia it’s different for every territory there. But the genesis is the same, to “honor the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.”

According to Wikipedia, “Labor Day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City. After the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago on May 4, 1886, U.S. President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Therefore, in 1887, the United States holiday was established in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored.” And you can read more about it at the Department of Labor.

Unlike today, when labor movements, and particularly unions, are demonized in the press and by the right-wing political machine, most people supported labor in some fashion for the very simply reason that a majority of people were part of the labor force. Today, thanks to effective propaganda, many people vote against their own interests. But that was not yet the case when Prohibition took effect in 1920. So many people in the labor force who were very unhappy about not being able to drink a beer after eight hours of back-breaking work started agitating for a repeal of prohibition, in some cases right from the start, since it became abundantly clear very quickly that a working life without the reward of a cold beer was going to suck.

Even before the 18th Amendment was to take effect on January 17, 1920, a previous measure passed by Congress, the Wartime Prohibition Act banned “the sale of alcoholic beverages having an alcohol content of greater than 2.75%” beginning on June 30, 1919.” The measure supposedly was “intended to save grain for the war effort,” but it actually “was passed after the armistice ending World War I was signed on November 11, 1918.” Since July 1st was the first day after alcohol was banned under the Wartime Prohibition Act, that day became known as the “Thirsty-First.”

So labor organizations in New York City began making plans to oppose and protest Prohibition, creating pins bearing their slogan “No Beer, No Work.”

no-beer-no-work-pin

In addition, they planned a walk-out for July 1 of 1919, which was reported in the New York Times on February 8, 1919.

nyt-feb8-1919

The next day, February 9, 1919, the story was picked up in Chicago and ran on the front page of The Evening World.

NoBeerNoWork-1919-Chicago

The news even made it as far as Australia’s Northern Territory Times and Gazette of Darwin, which ran the story on April 19, 1919 (reporting on events of February 8th and 9th):

NoBeerNoWork-1919-Australia

A “No beer, no work” movement has been started in New York and New Jersey. Its sponsors expect to give it a national impetus. Last night “no beer, no work” buttons were worn by all the delegates to the meeting of the Central Federation Union, one of the largest trade unions in the country. Mr. Ernest Bohn, secretary of the union, declared that labour as a whole is opposed to prohibition, and predicted for July 1st, when the nation goes “dry,” a nation-wide walk out of workmen who want beer. Asked how the amendment of the Constitution could be rendered inoperative by a ” walk-out,” Mr Bohn replied. “We can make such a protest that the Supreme Court wilt declare the amendment unconstitutional.”

But not everyone in labor agreed, as evidenced by this article in New Jersey’s Poverty Bay Herald on May 3, 1919, where 400 union delegates in the Garden State came out against the strike, although they agreed that Prohibition was a bad idea.

NoBeerNoWork-1919-NJ

But there’s not much more about these efforts in New York that I could find. I did find this paragraph, by a Columbia history student, who in his junior year received a research grant, the Edwin Robbins Prize, and used it to do his senior thesis:

“New York Organized Labor and Prohibition Resistance: The ‘No Beer, No Work’ Movement of 1919.” A forgotten moment in labor history, it was a fascinating intersection of culture, gender, and class, examining the untidy boundary between “economic” and “social” life. Some local trade-unionists co-opted a catchy slogan, “No Beer, No Work,” with the intent of fomenting a national general strike, attempting to save the saloon, galvanize class consciousness, and lead workers into a labor party. The strike more than failed; it never occurred.

Perhaps more curiously, and what started this, is I discovered that more than one person took the great slogan “No Beer, No Work,” and wrote a song about it, using it as the title. The first I found was written in 1919, by Sammy Edwards.

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And here are the lyrics to NO BEER, NO WORK, by Sammy Edwards, 1919:

1. Johnny Hymer was a miner, always on the job.
Johnny loved his lager like a sailor loves his grog.
One day, his foreman told him that this country would go dry.
John threw his tools upon the ground. You should have heard him cry:

CHORUS: “No beer, no work” will be my battle cry.
“No beer, no work” when I am feeling dry.
I never could like lemonade or bevo, for beer is all I’ll buy.
I’ll hide my self away
Until some brighter day
When I can sip the lager from a stein.
“No beer, no work” will be my battle cry
After the first of July.

2. Johnny’s steady, ever ready to give good advice,
Said, “Go back to work or there’ll be no old shoes or rice.
Be like Kipling’s hero. Bear your troubles with a grin.”
John said, “I’ll be your hero, but I’ll be no Gunga Din.”

3. “When I was a baby,” said our Johnny with a smile,
“They raised me on a bottle. Now they want to change the style.
John Barleycorn’s a friend of mine. My daddy knew him well.
He’d bring John home with him at night and ma would give him —.

Then the very same year, another song was published by Martin Ballmann, with lyrics by Anna Ballmann and Theodore Philipp, also with the title “No Beer, No Work.” Ballman’s version was published in Chicago, and is completely different than Edwards’, apart from the title, of course.

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And lastly, music-wise at least, again in early 1919 (February 26 the paper is stamped), “singing character comedian” Sam Marley created original novelty lyrics for a song he called … wait for it … “No Beer, No Work.” His typed lyrics can be found in the collection of the Library of Congress.

no-beer-lyrics

Here’s a political cartoon originally from “The American Issue” of Westerville, Ohio, published August 19, 1919, drawn by an artist named Henderson.

No_Beer

And finally, American author and poet Ellis Parker Butler, wrote a poem in 1919 also using labor’s slogan as the title, which was published in the magazine “Snappy Stories.” Butler’s poem was a parody of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Excelsior.

No Beer, No Work

The shades of night was fallin’ slow
As through New York a guy did go
And nail on ev’ry barroom door
A card that this here motter bore:
‘No beer, no work.’

His brow was sad, his mouth was dry;
It was the first day of July,
And where, all parched and scorched it hung,
These words was stenciled on his tongue:
‘No beer, no work.’

‘Oh, stay,’ the maiden said, ‘and sup
This malted milk from this here cup.’
A shudder passed through that there guy,
But with a moan he made reply:
‘No beer, no work.’

At break of day, as through the town
The milkman put milk bottles down,
Onto one stoop a sort of snore
Was heard, and then was heard no more—
‘No beer, no work.’

The poor old guy plumb dead was found
And planted in the buryin’ ground,
Still graspin’ in his hand of ice
Them placards with this sad device:
‘No beer, no work.’

no-beer-no-work-mug-pin

To which I can only add. Happy Labor Day!

Old King Cole Was A Beery Old Soul

goose-island-goose
Given that today is Mother Goose Day, a day to “re-appreciate the old nursery rhymes,” I couldn’t help but point out a few beer references in Mother Goose.

real-mother-goose

But as for Mother Goose herself, you can read a lot of the other Mother Goose Rhymes and many more by letter, read her possible history and Just Who Was Mother Goose?.

Old King Cole

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The usual Old King Cole goes like this:

Old King Cole
Was a merry old soul,
And a merry old soul was he;
He called for his pipe,
And he called for his bowl,
And he called for his fiddlers three.
Each fiddler, he had a fiddle,
And a very fine fiddle had he;
Twee-tweedle-dee, tweedle-dee, went the fiddlers,
Oh, there’s none so rare,
As can compare
With old King Cole and his fiddlers three!

But the song takes a decidedly military turn, and these soldiers love their beer:

Now Old King Cole was a merry old soul and a merry old soul was he
He called for is pipe in the middle of the night and he called for
his Gunners three.

Beer Beer Beer said the Gunners,
Merry merry men are we;
There’s none so fair as can compare with the Royal Artillery.

And the more modern version, copyrighted 1929 and as recorded by Harry Belafonte, sticks with beer:

Old King Cole was a merry old soul
And a merry old soul was he
Called for his pipe
And he called for his bowl
And he called for his privates three

“Beer, beer, beer”, said the privates
Merry men are we
There’s none so fair as can compare
With the Fighting Infantry

And here’s the music, too. Plus, according to Wikipedia, “the United States military also has a version in the form of a marching cadence during the 1980s and in to the present.”

Old King Cole was a merry old soul
and a merry ol’ soul was he, uh huh.
He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl
and he called for his privates three, uh huh.
Beer! Beer! Beer! cried the private.
Brave men are we
There’s none so fair as they can compare
to the airborne infantry, uh huh.

There’s also quite a bit of controversy surrounding who exactly King Cole was, or even if existed. Read all about it at the Kyle Society or the StateMaster Encyclopedia.

king-cole-beer

Old Mother Hubbard

old-mother-hubbard

Old Mother Hubbard also had a beer element to it, though most people don’t know about it because it’s part of the long version, not the one we’re all used to.

Old Mother Hubbard;
Went to the cupboard,
To give her poor dog a bone;
But when she got there
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

And that’s where it ends for most of us, but it actually goes on for another thirteen stanzas. The fifth stanza is the following:

She went to the alehouse
To get him some beer;
When she came back
The dog sat in a chair.

You’ve go to love a world when children were let it to the reality of life. You can read the entire poem on Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes (it’s about a third of the way down on the right).

Blue Bell Boy

One of Mother Goose’s less well-known nursery rhymes, Blue Bell Boy is about a mother who gives her son, Blue Bell, various jobs to do, which she reports he did “very well.” But it turns out he’s unable to complete the final chore of the poem for one very simple reason.

blue-bell-boy

He went to the cellar
To draw a little beer;
And quickly did return
To say there was none there.

You can read the whole poem on Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes (it’s about a third of the way down on the left).