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Each month, a birth-day coming on,
We drink defying trouble, Or sometimes two would meet in one,
And then we drank it double ;
Whether the vintage, yet unkept,
Had relish fiery-new,
As old as Waterloo ;
In musty bins and chambers, Had cast upon its crusty side
The gloom of ten Decembers.
The Muse, the jolly Muse, it is!
She answer'd to my call,
Is all-in-all to all :
To make my blood run quicker,
Her life into the liquor.
And hence this halo lives about
The waiter's hands, that reach To each his perfect pint of stout,
His proper chop to each.
That with the napkin dally;
From some delightful valley.
The Cock was of a larger egg
Than modern poultry drop, Stept forward on a firmer leg,
And cramm'd a plumper crop ; Upon an ampler dunghill trod,
Crow'd lustier late and early, Sipt wine from silver, praising God,
And raked in golden barley.
A private life was all his joy,
Till in a court he saw
That-knuckled at the taw :
He stoop'd and clutch'd him, fair and good,
Flew over roof and casement :
His brothers of the weather stood
Stock-still for sheer amazement.
But he, by farmstead, thorpe and spire,
And follow'd with acclaims,
Came crowing over Thames.
With motion less or greater ;
And one became head-waiter.
But whither would my fancy go?
How out of place she makes The violet of a legend blow
Among the chops and steaks ! 'Tis but a steward of the can,
One shade more plump than common; As just and mere a serving-man
As any, born of woman.
I ranged too high : what draws me down
Into the common day?
Which I shall have to pay ?
Nor wholly comfortable,
And thrumming on the table ;
Half fearful that, with self at strife,
I take myself to task ;
To prove myself a poet;
Is gray before I know it.
So fares it since the years began,
Till they be gather'd up;
Will haunt the vacant cup ;
And others' follies teach us not,
Nor much their wisdom teaches; And most, of sterling worth, is what
Our own experience preaches.
Ah! let the rusty theme alone!
We know not what we know.
But for my pleasant hour, 'tis gone,
'Tis gone, and let it go. 'Tis gone: a thousand such have slipt
Away from my embraces, And fall'n into the dusty crypt
Of darken’d forms and faces.
Go, therefore, thou ! thy betters went
Long since, and came no more ; With peals of genial clamour sent
From many a tavern-door, With twisted quirks and happy hits
From misty men of letters; The tavern-hours of mighty wits
Thine elders and thy betiers.