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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Catawba Wine

From Birds Of Passage (Flight the First)
    This song of mine
    Is a Song of the Vine,
To be sung by the glowing embers
    Of wayside inns,
    When the rain begins
To darken the drear Novembers.

    It is not a song
    Of the Scuppernong,
From warm Carolinian valleys,
    Nor the Isabel
    And the Muscadel
That bask in our garden alleys.

    Nor the red Mustang,
    Whose clusters hang
O'er the waves of the Colorado,
    And the fiery flood
    Of whose purple blood
Has a dash of Spanish bravado.

    For richest and best
    Is the wine of the West,
That grows by the Beautiful River;
    Whose sweet perfume
    Fills all the room
With a benison on the giver.

    And as hollow trees
    Are the haunts of bees,
For ever going and coming;
    So this crystal hive
    Is all alive
With a swarming and buzzing and humming.

    Very good in its way
    Is the Verzenay,
Or the Sillery soft and creamy;
    But Catawba wine
    Has a taste more divine,
More dulcet, delicious, and dreamy.

    There grows no vine
    By the haunted Rhine,
By Danube or Guadalquivir,
    Nor on island or cape,
    That bears such a grape
As grows by the Beautiful River.

    Drugged is their juice
    For foreign use,
When shipped o'er the reeling Atlantic,
    To rack our brains
    With the fever pains,
That have driven the Old World frantic.

    To the sewers and sinks
    With all such drinks,
And after them tumble the mixer;
    For a poison malign
    Is such Borgia wine,
Or at best but a Devil's Elixir.

    While pure as a spring
    Is the wine I sing,
And to praise it, one needs but name it;
    For Catawba wine
    Has need of no sign,
No tavern-bush to proclaim it.

    And this Song of the Vine,
    This greeting of mine,
The winds and the birds shall deliver
    To the Queen of the West,
    In her garlands dressed,
On the banks of the Beautiful River.

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