nuptial promise: she
Turn’d; and, half-choked through dewy glens, some great,
Some magic drone of revel coming sobb’d.

Of glorious fruit, indeed, must be thy choice!
Such as has fully ripen’d on the branch,
Such as due rain, then sunshine, made rejoice,
Which, pulp’d and colour’d, now deep bloom doth blanch!
Clusters like odes for victors in the games,
Strophe on strophe globed, pure nectar all!
Spread such to dry! if Helios grant thee grace,
Exposed unto his flames
Two days, or, if not, three, or, should rain fall,
Stretch them on hurdles in the house four days!

Grapes are not sharded chestnuts, which the tree
Lets fall to burst them on the ground, where red
Rolls forth the fruit, from white-lined wards set free,
And all undamaged glows ’mid husks it shed;
Nay, they are soft and should be singly stripp’d
From off the bunch, by maiden’s dainty hand,
Then dropp’d through the cool silent depth to sink
(Coy, as herself hath slipp’d,
Bathing, from shelves in caves along the strand)
Till round each dark grape water barely wink;

Since some nine measures of sea-water fill
A butt of fifty, ere the plump fruit peep,
Like sombre dolphin shoals when nights are still,
Which penn’d in Proteus’ wizard circle sleep,
And’ twixt them glinting curves of silver glance
If Zephyr, dimpling dark calm, counts them o’er.
Let soak thy fruit for two days thus, then tread!
While bare-legg’d bumpkins dance,
Bright from thy bursting press arch’d spouts shall pour,
And gurgling torrents towards thy vats run red.

Meanwhile the maidens, each with wooden rake,
Drag back the skins and laugh at aprons splash’d;
Or youths rest, boasting how their brown arms ache,
So fast their shovels for so long have flash’d,
Baffling their comrades’ legs with mounting heaps.
Treble their labour! still the happier they,
Who, at this genial task, wear out long hours,
Till vast night round them creeps,
When soon the torch-light dance whirls them away;
For gods, who love wine, double all their powers.

Iacchus is the always grateful god!
His vineyards are more fair than gardens far;
Hanging, like those of Babylon, they nod
O’er each Ionian cliff and hill-side scar!
While Cypris lends him saltness, depth, and peace;
The brown earth yields him sap for richest green;
And he has borrow’d laughter from the sky;
Wildness from winds; and bees
Bring honey.—Then choose casks which thou hast seen
Are leakless, very wholesome, and quite dry!

That Coan wine the very finest is,
I do assure thee, who have travell’d much
And learn’d to judge of diverse vintages.
Faint not before the toil! this wine is such
As tempteth princes launch long pirate barks;—
From which may Zeus protect Sicilian bays,
And, ere long, me safe home from Egypt bring,
Letting no black-sail’d sharks
Scent this king’s gifts, for whom I sweeten praise
With those same songs thou didst to Chloëe sing!

I wrote them ’neath the vine-cloak’d elm, for thee.
Recall those nights! our couches were a load
Of scented lentisk; upward, tree by tree,
Thy father’s orchard sloped, and past us flow’d
A stream sluiced for his vineyards; when, above,
The apples fell, they on to us were roll’d,
But kept us not awake,—O Laco, own
How thou didst rave of love!
Now art thou staid, thy son is three years old;
But I, who made thee love-songs, live alone.

Muse thou at dawn o’er thy yet slumbering wife!—
Not chary of her best was Nature there,
Who, though a third of her full gift of life
Was spent, still added beauties still more rare;
What calm slow days, what holy sleep at night,
Evolved her for long twilight trystings fraught
With panic blushes and tip-toe surmise:
And then, what mystic might—
All, with a crowning boon, through travail brought!
Consider this and give thy best likewise!

Ungrateful be not! Laco, ne’er be that!
Well worth thy while to make such wine’ twould be:
I see thy red face ’neath thy broad straw hat,
I see thy house, thy vineyards, Sicily!—
Thou dost demur, good, but too easy, friend:
Come put those doubts away! thou hast strong lads,
Brave wenches; on the

  By PanEris using Melati.

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