James Bayard Taylor

(11 January 1825 – 19 December 1878 / Chester County, Pennsylvania)

Sicilian Wine - Poem by James Bayard Taylor

I' ve drunk Sicilia's crimson wine!
The blazing vintage pressed
From grapes on Etna's breast,
What time the mellowing autumn sun
did shine:
I ‘ve drunk the wine!
I feel its blood divine
Poured on the sluggish tide of mine,
Till, kindling slow,
Its fountains glow
With the light that swims
On their trembling brims,
And a molten sunrise floods my limbs!

What do I here?
I ‘ve drunk the wine,
And lo! the bright blue heaven is clear
Above the ocean's bluer sphere,
Seen through the long arcades of pine,
Inwoven and arched with vine!
The glades are green below;
The temple shines afar;
Above, old Etna's snow
Sparkles with many an icy star:
I see the mountain and its marble wall,
Where gleaming waters fall
And voices call,
Singing and calling
Like chorals falling
Through pearly doors of some Olympian hall,
Where Love holds bacchanal.

Sicilian wine! Sicilian wine!
Summer, and Music, and Song divine
Are thine, — all thine!
A sweet wind over the roses plays;
The wild bee hums at my languid ear;
The mute-winged moth serenely strays
On the downy atmosphere,
Like hovering Sleep, that overweighs
My lids with his shadow, yet comes not near.
Who ‘11 share with me this languor?
With me the juice of Etna sip?
Who press the goblet's lip,
Refusing mine the while with love's enchanting
anger?
Would I were young Adonis now!
With what an ardor bold
Within my arms I ‘d fold
Fair Aphrodite of Idalian mould,
And let the locks that hide her gleaming brow
Fall o'er my shoulder as she lay
With the fair swell of her immortal breast
Upon my bosom pressed,
Giving Olympian thrills to its enamored clay!

Bacchus and Pan have fled:
No heavy Satyr crushes with his tread
The verdure of the meadow ground,
But in their stead
The Nymphs are leading a bewildering round,
Vivid and light, as o'er some flowering rise
A dance of butterflies,
Their tossing hair with slender lilies crowned,
And greener ivy than o'erran
The brows of Bacchus and the reed of Pan!

I faint, I die:
The flames expire,
That made my blood a fluid fire:
Steeped in delicious weariness I lie.
O, lay me in some pearled shell,
Soft-balanced on the rippling sea,
Where sweet, cheek-kissing airs may wave
Their fresh wings over me;
Let me be wafted with the swell
Of Nereid voices; let no billow rave
To break the cool green crystal of the sea.
For I will wander free
Past the blue islands and the fading shores,
To Calpe and the far Azores,
And still beyond, and wide away,
Beneath the dazzling wings of tropic day, .
Where, on unruffled seas,
Sleep the green isles of the Hesperides.

The Triton's trumpet calls:
I hear, I wake, I rise:
The sound peals up the skies,
And mellowed Echo falls
In answer back from Heaven's cerulean walls.
Give me the lyre that Orpheus played upon,
Or bright Hyperion, —
Nay, rather come, thou of the mighty bow,
Come thou below,
Leaving thy steeds unharnessed go!
Sing as thou wilt, my voice shall dare to follow,
And I will sun me in thine awful glow,
Divine Apollo!
Then thou thy lute shalt twine
With Bacchic tendrils of the glorious vine
That gave Sicilian wine:
And henceforth when the breezes run
Over its clusters, ripening in the sun,
The leaves shall still be playing,
Unto thy lute its melody repaying,
And I, that quaff, shall evermore be free
To mount thy car and ride the heavens with thee!


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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 7, 2015



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