Ballad of the Grapes

By George Sterling

O Sadducees and Pharisees,
    Who harass the divine,
Now harken with reluctancy
    How Daphne made the wine!

(I drain a glass of bootleg Scotch,
    For fear my voice may tire.
I pause ... I drain a larger one,
    Then whang the western lyre.)

It was in San Francisco town
    Once dedicate to joy,
Now given up to hypocrites
    And all reform's annoy.

Oh! Daphne was as brave a girl
    As ever wore a glove.
She made her prayer to Bacchus, Pan
    And all the gods of love.

Now Daphne bought a load of grapes
    With ocean-purple skin;
She bought some golden muscatel
    And called her lover in.

And thrice she scoured her bath-tub
    (A needless act, we know)
With Bon Ami, Dutch Cleanser
    And much Sapolio.

And thrice she washed her snowy legs,
    At which a faun might kneel,
With Ivory soap and Colgate soap
    And soap we call Castile.

Then in the tub they dumped the grapes
    And in the tub she stepped;
And oh! to see her nudity
    The men of God had wept!

Not as the grapes of wrath are trod
    Trod she the vintage there,
Up to her knees in scarlet foam,—
    Unhidden by her hair;

But rather as when dryads white
    Pace slowly in the dance,
She proved our old, delicious lies
    And certified romance.

O fumes of Bacchus that betrayed
    The spirit ot the grape!
O unseen incense that arose
    Around that lyric shape!

A dream she was of pagan days
    Lost now to righteous man,
When through the vineyards of the Greek
    Rippled the rout of Pan.

Right gaily up and down she strode
    That treadmill of delight,
As on her breasts and on her thighs
    The drops lay pink and bright.

(O Sadducees and Pharisees,
    And had ye seen that dew
Ye would have longed to sip each drop—
    And no such luck for you!)

But tired she was as dear she was,
    Before the task was done;
So children with the close of day
    Weary ot even fun.

Wherefore a little pause from toil
    They did not think amiss.
Perhaps they had a glass or two,
    And, it may be, a kiss.

But he had brought a goodly cask,
    Funnel and strainer too,
And so they filled that goodly cask
    With juice of ruddy hue.

And in a cool and darksome place
    They set that goodly cask
And had, perhaps, a glass or two,
    To celebrate the task.

Now months must come and months must go
    And men know joy and care,
But when that wine goes twelve per cent,
    May you and I be there!

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