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Saturday, 20 December 2008

Christmas Tipples With the Poets

But first

a very good Christmas to you all,

with much happiness, good health and

prosperity in the new year -

if that last is not tempting providence too severely!

And on the subject of tipples, but before we get to the poets, whilst still soporific this morning (20.12.08) I heard a Radio 2 voice informing me that one of our police forces (Kent?) has issued its officers with a list of words that are difficult or impossible to say after having over-imbibed. (World shortage of breathalysers perhaps?) I didn't get all the words, but they included: innovative, preliminary and transubstantiation. The Radio 2 voice later suggested that aurora borealis (which have been Christened The Northern Christmas Lights, apparently) might be added to the list. So here's a sort of Christmas challenge for anyone foolish enough to take it on: using those 4 words, write a Christmas poem that only we more sober souls will be able to read aloud on Christmas Day.

And now to those tipples... This is a recycled (i.e. expanded and much improved) version of a post I made a year ago in which I got to wondering what if some of our best poets had become producers, not of poetry, but of fine wines? Are these the sort of wines we might have been enjoying this year?

Seamus Heaney
A generous, authoritative, rather earthy wine with a peaty, even gritty flavour and holding a wide range of subtle hints needing to be teased out by a knowledgable and sensitive drinker. Nevertheless, it is easy to like on first acquaintance and has become highly popular as a result. It comes into its own when accompanying a serious meat dish, but can be tenjoyed with any dish - or with none.

W.B Yeats
A somewhat grandiloquent wine, at times having more the characteristics of a slightly sticky liqueur. Ideal for the grand occasion, though be warned that this fine, slightly hallucinatory drink, has suggestions both of majesty and rebellion in its heady bouquet.

George Szirtes
A wine for all occasions, having great strength and clarity of both colour and bouquet. It is the perfect accompaniment for the big occasion or the gourmet meal, though it will not let you down at party time.

John Betjeman
I know of connoisseurs who consider this a low-alcohol drink. They are wrong. If few have menaged to become incapacitated on the strength of it, many they are who have grown merry with its help..

Sylvia Plath
A dry white with a sensuous texture, often missed until the palate has been acquired.

Hugh MacDiarmid
The product of a robust grape that thrives in either of two soils, the one resulting in a refreshingly wild and unambiguous flavour, the other in a cloud of hints and associations.

W. H. Auden
A serious taste beneath a lively, jovial bouquet. A wine for either public or private occasions.

W. S. Graham
The punch with a punch. The first draught may be totally befuddling, but eventually - probably a day or two later - a cold clarity will hit. And you will never forget that you drank! No spirits and only the finest grapes are used, those that are the result of geography, of the soil, the climate, the very atmosphere in which they grew. Remarkable then, how well it travels!

Elizabeth Jennings
A quiet, restrained and unassuming wine that by eschewing fashion has won for itself considerable popularity among discerning drinkers.

T.S. Eliot
One for the connoisseur, having in both its taste and its aroma many associations to be enjoyed by the cognoscenti.

R.S. Thomas
A severe wine with an enduring, uncomplicated flavour. A happy complement to simple fare.

Marianne Moore
Edith Sitwell once referred to this wine as "thick and uncouth", which is strange, considering its allusive and tantalising nature. Perfect with a light meal.

Robert Graves
A traditional wine, though with more than a touch of the free spirit. Ideal for the picnic hamper on a hot, sunny day, or to accompany a Mediterranean-style meal. A wine for lovers everywhere.

Even as you draw the cork you will feel the presence of the English countryside. It could not have come from anywhere else.

Elaine Feinstein
A dry white wine with a spare, wry flavour.

Thom Gunn
A supple, dark and sexy red.


Ken Armstrong said...

My Christmas was really quite crass,
I got stopped by a cop after Mass
I said, "this wine-inebriation
is on account of a failed Transubstantiation"
Still he arrested my aurora-bony-ass

(Happy Christmas, Dear Dave!)

Shadow said...

your poets 'descriptions' are brilliant!!!! thanks for the grin this sunday morning...

will get to that poem with those four words shortly.

Crafty Green Poet said...

your tipples are very entertaining. Thanks!

Elizabeth said...

This is a wonderful inventive post - a sheer delight for the season.
I must admit to a great fondness for John B. inherited from my father - low-brow perhaps -- but so what?
Same for Gilbert and Sullivan.

I am going to take you up on you inebriated words challenge after I have polished the silver.
Happy Christmas from New York.

Lyn said...

Poor Sylvia...unfortunately, she didn't take enough time to acquire the palate. Perhaps an encounter with sensuous textures, sipped slowly, might have postponed the inevitable.
Cheers! Really good post!
Thanks also for your comments.

Elizabeth said...


never went in a poem
too clumsy lumbering dull
and awkwardly

aurora borealis
which glitters above
'innovative' say the ads
'preliminary' the govt. report
bah humbug says I
more joy in short words


Shadow said...

hey! you can find my words over here...


Jim Murdoch said...

That I didn't get most of your jokes simply exposes how poorly read I really am. Ah well. Not much we can do about that now.

Dominic Rivron said...

What a great list! I really like reading McDiarmid - but you do get the odd undrinkable bottle.

Dominic Rivron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dominic Rivron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dominic Rivron said...

Sorry about the deleted posts - I haven't touched a drop, honest. It's right this time:

“Innovative" and "Preliminary"
are difficult, they say,
and “transubstantiation”
rarely mastered;

but if a voice in your head
says “have an orange juice instead”
you're unlikely to get nicked
for getting plastered.

It beats me why anyone
should think “Aurora Borealis”
a useful test
to tell you when to stop.

It's hard enough to say
on a clear, cold Christmas Day
when you've just got up
and haven't touched a drop.

Cloudia said...

Very clever post!!
Auden is often underestimated; jovial bouquet often concealing the powerful finnish to less experienced imbibers. Well done!

maekitso said...

Merry Christmas, Dave. I've enjoyed reading many of your posts this year and I'm looking forward to another fine year. Cheers.

Dave King said...

I am speechless, that is so good. Thanks for that, and a very happy christmas to you!

Best wait until you sober up, though! - and a very happy christmas to you!

Crafty Green Poet
And my thanks to you - and a very happy christmas!

You have restored my faith in human nature, not only do you like Betjemen and Gilbert and Sullivan, but you still polish the silver! Engishness lives on! -A very happy christmas to you!

And a really good comment. Fantastic poem. Thanks - and a very happy christmas to you!

Much thanks, will look them up in a bit. Have a very happy christmas!

Not at all, Jim. There is another explanation.... - and a very happy christmas to you!

The odd undrinkable bottle... true, but you get the wine waiter to exchange that!
Bowled over by yet another rgeat poem. Thanks - and a very happy christmas to you!
Don't worry about the deletions, I believe you!

Thanks for that - and a very happy christmas to you!

Thanks, and may I return the compliment? - and a very happy christmas to you!

LORENZO said...

Two more for you...

Dave King
Smooth and aged to perfection. A reasonably priced wine for those who value the fine craftmanship of
a tried and true vineyard.

Charles Bukowski

Sold by the gallon or 5L jug. Burns when going down, however consumed in mass quanities...does the trick.Goes well with beer,liquor and trashy women.

Hope for us all in the new year! It's been a great ride so far.


hope said...

Nice post, even for us non-drinkers. ;)

Okay, for better or worse, here goes:

Now Officer, it’s not what you think.
I haven’t had a sip…did you wink?
Preliminary innovative I can say.
Aura borealis too…now I’ll on my way.
Even spelling Transubstantiation makes my brain kink.

[This limerick frame of mind is all Armstrong's fault!] :)

Sorlil said...

I'm not even going to rise to the challenge considering all the good ones here, lol!! Did you notice that George Szirtes noticed and blogged on your post??!

acornmoon said...

I'll have a glass of Dylan Thomas please and leave the pronunciation to the sober.


hope said...

I swear I'm sober but seems the word "be" fell out of "Be on my way".

Sorry. :0

Linda Sue said...

DAVE! Happy Christmas! You always inspire- ALWAYS!
Best wishes and gobs of love!
( wasn't that eloquent?"

Tumblewords: said...

Delightful read! Merry Holidays to you! Thanks for providing this remarkable blog!

Mary-Laure said...

I love this collision of poetry and wine... If I drink all the wine/poets I love, I fear I may get very drunk indeed!

swiss said...

lol. very funny and a tonic for my insomnia! particularly like the 'thick and uncouth' marianne moore! cheers dave. have a good one

Dave King said...

Two great write-ups. I shall treasure mine - at least until after Christmas. As much
appreciated as any fine wine.

Okay, I should have included some non-alcoholic stuff, I agree. Trouble was, I thought it might be taken the wrong way. Did want to appear disparaging to any poet.

I am impressed with limerick-like (shall we call it?) verse. I really thought the four words would make it unlikely that anyone would try. How wrong I was!

No, I did not. I must follow that one up! Thanks for that!

Ever the pragmatist! - and why not, indeed?

I have no doubt about your sobriety. I thought it was cool without the be!

Linda Sue
Blimey, yus. That was eloquent. As good as like what I could have wrote! Thanks
and my reciprocations.

Cheers and best wishes.

What a lovely image that paints: a collision of poetry and wine..collision of poetry and wine!

And to you, too - you must try some of the real stuff for your insomnia.

Derrick said...

Hello Dave and a Merry Chrstmas to you.

THANK YOU for becoming a follower.

Not being as well versed as yourself and many of your followers, I can, however, appreciate your wine descriptions via their comments

And I take my hat off to those who have risen to your challenge. Inspiring!

MuseSwings said...

Brilliant descriptions of these poets! A pat on the back to those poets who took you up on your challenge!
Merry Christmas, Dave!

Conda V. Douglas said...

Dave, I've been having a lot of fun reading this post. I'll just bet you had a lot of fun writing it!

I especially enjoy the Yeats and Graves. These two were my "speciality" in college and you've drawn their spirits quite well indeed!

Totalfeckineejit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Totalfeckineejit said...

Hi Dave, wow ,you (desrvedly) get a lot of comments! Great blog,clever poetwines, got a lot of posts to catch up on.Looking forward to delving more over the hols,happy christmas and thanks for entering the universe's ultimate cartoon caption contest.
(Deleted comment is mine by the way, made a total hames of it, as usual!)

Dave King said...

Welcome, and thanks for commenting.
For your good wishes, also, which I return.

Muse Swings
Quite agree. I hadn't expected so many to take up what I had thought to be an impossibly difficult challenge.

You'd be right in that. (my fingers typed write. I was tempted to leave it.
Two rather under-appreciated poets, I think.
Thanks for the comments.

Welcome and thanks for stopping by to comment. Have a great season.

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