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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Winter Wish

By Robert Hinckley Messinger (1811–1874)

[Born in Boston, Mass., 1811. Died at Stamford, Conn., 1874. First printed in the “New York American,” 26 April, 1838.]

  • Old wine to drink, old wood to burn, old books to read, and old friends to converse with.—Alfonso of Castile.

  • OLD wine to drink!

    Ay, give the slippery juice

    That drippeth from the grape thrown loose

    Within the tun;

    Plucked from beneath the cliff

    Of sunny-sided Teneriffe,

    And ripened ’neath the blink

    Of India’s sun!

    Peat whiskey hot,

    Tempered with well-boiled water!

    These make the long night shorter,—

    Forgetting not

    Good stout old English porter.

    Old wood to burn!

    Ay, bring the hill-side beech

    From where the owlets meet and screech,

    And ravens croak;

    The crackling pine, and cedar sweet;

    Bring too a clump of fragrant peat,

    Dug ’neath the fern;

    The knotted oak,

    A fagot too, perhap,

    Whose bright flame, dancing, winking,

    Shall light us at our drinking;

    While the oozing sap

    Shall make sweet music to our thinking.

    Old books to read!

    Ay, bring those nodes of wit,

    The brazen-clasped, the vellum writ,

    Time-honored tomes!

    The same my sire scanned before,

    The same my grandsire thumbed o’er,

    The same his sire from college bore,

    The well-earned meed

    Of Oxford’s domes:

    Old Homer blind,

    Old Horace, rake Anacreon, by

    Old Tully, Plautus, Terence lie;

    Mort Arthur’s olden minstrelsie,

    Quaint Burton, quainter Spenser, ay!

    And Gervase Markham’s venerie—

    Nor leave behind

    The holye Book by which we live and die.

    Old friends to talk!

    Ay, bring those chosen few,

    The wise, the courtly, and the true,

    So rarely found;

    Him for my wine, him for my stud,

    Him for my easel, distich, bud

    In mountain walk!

    Bring Walter good,

    With soulful Fred, and learned Will,

    And thee, my alter ego (dearer still

    For every mood).

    These add a bouquet to my wine!

    These add a sparkle to my pine!

    If these I tine,

    Can books, or fire, or wine be good?