On National Poetry Day here’s some of our favourite poems about drinking

Imbibe

Imbibe

01 October 2020

We’ve put together just a small selection of some of the greatest poems about imbibing we know for you to peruse this National Poetry Day

Sloe Gin, by Seamus Heaney

Chosen by Robyn Black, Imbibe editor

The clear weather of juniper
darkened into winter.
She fed gin to sloes
and sealed the glass container.

When I unscrewed it
I smelled the disturbed
tart stillness of a bush
rising through the pantry.

When I poured it
it had a cutting edge
and flamed
like Betelgeuse.

I drink to you
in smoke-mirled, blue-
black sloes, bitter
and dependable.

A Drinking Song, by William Butler Yeats

Chosen by Eleanor Dallaway, Imbibe editorial director

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

Enivrez-vous, by Charles Baudelaire

Chosen by Sandra Guerin, Imbibe marketing lead

Il faut être toujours ivre. Tout est là: c'est l'unique question.
Pour ne pas sentir l'horrible fardeau du Temps qui brise vos épaules et vous penche vers la terre, il faut vous enivrer sans trêve.
Mais de quoi? De vin, de poésie ou de vertu, à votre guise. Mais enivrez-vous.
Et si quelquefois, sur les marches d'un palais, sur l'herbe verte d'un fossé, dans la solitude morne de votre chambre,
vous vous réveillez, l'ivresse déjà diminuée ou disparue,
demandez au vent, à la vague, à l'étoile, à l'oiseau, à l'horloge, à tout ce qui fuit, à tout ce qui gémit,
à tout ce qui roule, à tout ce qui chante, à tout ce qui parle,
demandez quelle heure il est et le vent, la vague, l'étoile, l'oiseau, l'horloge, vous répondront:
'Il est l'heure de s'enivrer! Pour n'être pas les esclaves martyrisés du Temps, enivrez-vous; enivrez-vous sans cesse! De vin, de poésie ou de vertu, à votre guise.'

And in English (translation by Arthur Symons (1865-1945) translation, as quoted by Eugene O’Neill in Long Day’s Journey into Night):

Be always drunken. Nothing else matters: that is the only question.
If you would not feel the horrible burden of Time weighing on your shoulders and crushing you to the earth, be drunken continually.
Drunken with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will. But be drunken.
And if sometimes, on the stairs of a palace, or on the green side of a ditch, or in the dreary solitude of your own room,
you should awaken and the drunkenness be half or wholly slipped away from you,
ask of the wind, or of the wave, or of the star, or of the bird, or of the clock, of whatever flies, or sighs, or rocks, or sings, or speaks, ask what hour it is; and the wind, wave, star, bird, clock, will answer you:
'It is the hour to be drunken! Be drunken, if you would not be martyred slaves of Time; be drunken continually! With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will.'

A Glimpse, by Walt Whitman

Chosen by Kate Malczewski, drinks writer and Imbibe contributor

A glimpse through an interstice caught,
Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room around the stove late of a winter night, and I unremark’d seated in a corner,
Of a youth who loves me and whom I love, silently approaching and seating himself near, that he may hold me by the hand,
A long while amid the noises of coming and going, of drinking and oath and smutty jest,
There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word.

Tre grappoli (Three bunches), by Giovanni Pascoli

Chosen by Jacopo Mazzeo, Imbibe news editor

Ha tre, Giacinto, grappoli la vite.
Bevi del primo il limpido piacere;
bevi dell’altro l’oblio breve e mite;
e… più non bere:
ché sonno è il terzo, e con lo sguardo acuto
nel nero sonno vigila, da un canto,
sappi, il dolore; e alto grida un muto
pianto già pianto.

And in English (translation by Jacopo Mazzeo):

Giacinto, the vine carries three bunches.
Of the first you should drink the crystalline pleasure;
Of the next one it's brief and gentle oblivion;
then... drink no more:
for sleep is the third one.
The pain, you should know,
watches you over your dark sleep with a severe look,
and loud it cries a cry that's been cried before.

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