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"Bottled Poetry"

That's the phrase Robert Louis Stevenson famously used to express his appreciation for the wines of the Napa Valley, which he sampled on his honeymoon.  There have been wine posts and poetry posts lately on this weblog, but no posts combining the two.  To remedy that condition (before moving along to some other topic), I take yesterday's Supreme Court decision on interstate wine shipment as an excuse to reproduce this poem by Yvor Winters, which serves to capture in words what I have long maintained: that winegrowing is the most aesthetically pleasing form of agriculture I know.

In Praise of California Wines

Vineyards_paso_robles_by_mooncat_smallAmid these clear and windy hills
Heat gathers quickly and is gone;
Dust rises, moves, and briefly stills;
Our thoughts can scarcely pause thereon.

With pale bright leaf and shadowy stem,
Pellucid amid nervous dust,
By pre-Socratic stratagem,
Yet sagging with its weight of must,

The vineyard spreads beside the road
In repetition, point and line.
I sing, in this dry bright abode,
The praises of the native wine.

It yields the pleasure of the eye,
It charms the skin, it warms the heart;
When nights are cold and thoughts crowd high,
Then 'tis the solvent for our art.

When worn for sleep the head is dull,
When art has failed us, far behind,
Its sweet corruption fills the skull
Till we are happy to be blind.

So may I yet, as poets use,
My time being spent, and more to pay,
In this quick warmth the will diffuse,
In sunlight vanish quite away.

Not really a Great Poem, but certainly a pretty good one, its stray archaisms notwithstanding.  And it goes well with the red, white or rosé of your choice, preferably to be enjoyed in good company.

[Photo by mooncat (Erika Thorpe) -- whose uncle's Paso Robles vineyard it is -- via stock.xchng.]


George Lee

Donald Davie thought that Winters sounded a note of Virgilian pietas in this poem.

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