My second choice from Myrtle, Rue and Cypress (1883), Stenbock’s second collection of verses, is a poem in the spirit of carpe diem, honouring love, youth and wine. Here he joins Baudelaire, who also extolled wine and drunkenness, and indeed both authors experienced the pleasures of alcohol and drugs. As in many of Stenbock’s poems, the gender of the beloved young person is left unknown, but it was most probably a boy.
Drink of this wine, my dear,
The joys of youth are sweet;
Stretch forth thine hand, nor fear
Of its glowing fruits to eat.
Soon age shall cast its blight
On youth and youth’s delight;
Let us enjoy tonight,
The years are over fleet.
And, darling, let thy voice
Sing the sweet songs again,
That my spirit may rejoice
Before the time of pain.
Till age come, withering, scorning,
With withered wreaths adorning
The bitter house of mourning,
And make thy singing vain.
And kiss me once, my love,
With thy mouth of wine and fire,
Low murmuring, like the dove,
And fill thine heart’s desire.
Ere age thy soft skin hardens,
Blind age, that no fault pardons,
Cold age, whose withered gardens
Are hedged with thorn and briar.
Source of the poem: Myrtle, Rue and Cypress: A Book of Poems, Songs, and Sonnets, Hatchards, Picadilly, London (1883), reprint by Hermitage Books (1992), digitised on Internet Archive.
This is a revised version of a post previously published on Agapeta, 2018/09/13.