Verse > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow > Complete Poetical Works
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882).  Complete Poetical Works.  1893.
Birds of Passage
Flight the First.
Catawba Wine
          Written on the receipt of a gift of Catawba wine from the vineyards of Nicholas Longworth on the Ohio River.

        THIS song of mine
        Is a Song of the Vine,
To be sung by the glowing embers
        Of wayside inns,
        When the rain begins        5
To darken the drear Novembers.
        It is not a song
        Of the Scuppernong,
From warm Carolinian valleys,
        Nor the Isabel        10
        And the Muscadel
That bask in our garden alleys.
        Nor the red Mustang,
        Whose clusters hang
O’er the waves of the Colorado,        15
        And the fiery flood
        Of whose purple blood
Has a dash of Spanish bravado.
        For richest and best
        Is the wine of the West,        20
That grows by the Beautiful River;
        Whose sweet perfume
        Fills all the room
With a benison on the giver.
        And as hollow trees        25
        Are the haunts of bees,
Forever going and coming;
        So this crystal hive
        Is all alive
With a swarming and buzzing and humming.        30
        Very good in its way
        Is the Verzenay,
Or the Sillery soft and creamy;
        But Catawba wine
        Has a taste more divine,        35
More dulcet, delicious, and dreamy.
        There grows no vine
        By the haunted Rhine,
By Danube or Guadalquivir,
        Nor on island or cape,        40
        That bears such a grape
As grows by the Beautiful River.
        Drugged is their juice
        For foreign use,
When shipped o’er the reeling Atlantic,        45
        To rack our brains
        With the fever pains,
That have driven the Old World frantic.
        To the sewers and sinks
        With all such drinks,        50
And after them tumble the mixer;
        For a poison malign
        Is such a Borgia wine,
Or at best but a Devil’s Elixir.
        While pure as a spring        55
        Is the wine I sing,
And to praise it, one needs but name it;
        For Catawba wine
        Has need of no sign,
No tavern-bush to proclaim it.        60
        And this Song of the Vine,
        This greeting of mine,
The winds and the birds shall deliver
        To the Queen of the West,
        In her garlands dressed,        65
On the banks of the Beautiful River.

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