Saturday, June 4, 2016

Poetry Month, Day 4, George Arnold, "Beer"

My family owns all ten volumes of a 1929 Funk and Wagnalls publication called The World's 1000 Best Poems. Because of course we do. I was looking for a poem by Matthew Arnold, but "Dover Beach" wasn't in the book (which makes me question the rather grandiose title, frankly, but no matter).  However, I did discover this poem, an absolute gem!


Related Poem Content Details

    With my beer 
I sit, 
While golden moments flit: 
    They pass 
Unheeded by: 
And, as they fly, 
Being dry, 
    Sit, idly sipping here 
    My beer. 

O, finer far 
Than fame, or riches, are 
The graceful smoke-wreaths of this free cigar! 
    Should I 
    Weep, wail, or sigh? 
    What if luck has passed me by? 
What if my hopes are dead,—  
My pleasures fled? 
    Have I not still 
    My fill 
Of right good cheer,— 
Cigars and beer? 

    Go, whining youth, 
Go, weep and wail, 
Sigh and grow pale, 
    Weave melancholy rhymes 
    On the old times, 
Whose joys like shadowy ghosts appear,—
But leave me to my beer! 
    Gold is dross,— 
    Love is loss,—
So, if I gulp my sorrows down, 
Or see them drown 
In foamy draughts of old nut-brown, 
Then do I wear the crown, 
    Without the cross!
Look at that rhyme scheme! So much fun to read out loud - go on, read it out loud right now. I'll wait. 

Did you keep a straight face? Because I didn't - the poem is both grandiose AND, at the SAME TIME, entirely unpretentious. Brilliant!

 Look at the way the poem dribbles down the page, like the foam down the side of a beer glass. As a small time home brewer (have I mentioned that before? I brew beer, infrequently, but to reasonably good reviews), I appreciate the subject matter (not so much the cigars - but I'd smoke a free cigar, if one were offered). An absolute gem of a poem - not, perhaps, one for the ages (one of the 1000 best poems! In the world! [as of 1929. according to Funk and Wagnalls.]) but an enjoyable read. I'll be dipping into the collection again, and I'll take a look at "Dover Beach" later.