In a Wine Cellar

Victor James Daley

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SEE how it flashes,
This grape-blood fine!—
Our beards it splashes,
O comrade mine!—
Life dust and ashes
Were, wanting wine.
Fires heart and eyes;
Champagne the shadow
Of care defies;
An El Dorado
In Rhine-wine lies;

Port has the mintage
Of generous deeds;
Tokay scorns stintage
And richly bleeds;
But this great vintage
The Wine-March leads.

Yet it is wanting
In poesy;
No legends haunting
Its vassals be,
No tales enchanting
Of chivalry.

Spain’s grape hath stories;
Its blood the bold
Drank deep of old—
A wine of glories,
A wine of gold.

Who drinks not sparing,
Beholdeth he
The great Cid bearing
His banner free,
Columbus daring
The unknown Sea,

And, haply biding,
In this dream-Spain,
Don Quixote riding
Across the plain,
His squire confiding
Beside his rein.

The wine of France is
Aglow to-day
With flash of lances,
With feast and fray,
And dark-eyed glances
Of ladies gay.

See where together,
A flagon near,
Lie hat with feather,
And long rapier—
Fine courting weather,
O Cavalier!

Bright Rhenish, gleaming
Moon-white! Perchance
Thy wave clear beaming
Still guards Romance,
Not dead, but dreaming
In spell-bound trance!

Not in Rhine-water,
But Rhine-wine fair
Sir Rupert sought her
(As bards declare)
The Rhine King’s daughter
With golden hair.

Still ’neath its smiling
Wave’s amber rings,
Men sweetly wiling
From earthly things,
Her song beguiling
The Loreley sings.

Your cup, wild siren,
That Deutschland drains—
Her heart of iron
Moved by your strains—
No blood shall fire in
Australian veins;

Nor yours whose charm is
Your topaz eyne,
Nor yours whose armies
In gold caps shine,
Shall charm or harm us—
Eh, comrade mine?

No vintage alien
For thee or me!
Our fount Castalian
Of poesy
Shall wine Australian,
None other be.

Then place your hand in
This hand of mine,
And while we stand in
Her brave sunshine
Pledge deep our land in
Our land’s own wine.

It has no glamour
Of old romance,
Of war and amour
In Spain or France;
Its poets stammer
As yet, perchance;

But he may wholly
Become a seer
Who quaffs it slowly;
For he shall hear,
Though faintly, lowly,
Yet sweet and clear,

The axes ringing
On mountain sides,
The wool-boats swinging
Down Darling tides,
The drovers singing
Where Clancy rides,

The miners driving,
The stockman’s strife;
All sounds conniving
To tell the rife,
Rich, rude, strong-striving
Australian life.

Once more your hand in
This hand of mine!
And while we stand in
The brave sunshine,
Pledge deep our land in
Our land’s own wine!

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