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Once some ancient Skald,
In his bleak, ancestral Iceland, .
Chanted staves of these old ballads
To the Vikings.

Once in Elsinore,
At the court of old King Hamlet,
Yorick and his boon companions
Sang these ditties.

Once Prince Frederick’s Guard
Sang them in their smoky barracks;
Suddenly the English cannon
Joined the chorus !

Peasants in the field,
Sailors on the roaring ocean,
Students, tradesmen, pale mechanics,
All have sung them.

Thou hast been their friend;
They, alas ! have left thee friendless !
Yet at least by one warm fireside
Art thou welcome.

And, as swallows build
In these wide, old-fashioned chimneys,
So thy twittering songs shall nestle
In my bosom,

Quiet, close, and warm,
Sheltered from all molestation,
And recalling by their voices
Youth and travel.



COME, old friend! sit down and listen!

From the pitcher, placed between us, How the waters laugh and glisten

In the head of old Silenus !

Old Silenus, bloated, drunken,

Led by his inebriate Satyrs ; On his breast his head is sunken,

Vacantly he leers and chatters.

Fauns with youthful Bacchus follow;

Ivy crowns that brow supernal As the forehead of Apollo,

And possessing youth eternal.

Round about him, fair Bacchantes,

Bearing cymbals, flutes, and thyrses, Wild from Naxian groves, or Zante's

Vineyards, sing delirious verses.

Thus he won, through all the nations,

Bloodless victories, and the farmer Bore, as trophies and oblations,

Vines for banners, ploughs for armour.


Judged by no o'erzealous rigour,

Much this mystic throng expresses : Bacchus was the type of vigour,

And Silenus of excesses.

These are ancient ethnic revels,

Of a faith long since forsaken; Now the Satyrs, changed to devils, . Frighten mortals wine-o'ertaken.

Now to rivulets from the mountains

Point the rods of fortune-tellers ; Youth perpetual dwells in fountains,

Not in flasks, and casks, and cellars.

Claudius, though he sang of flagons

And huge tankards filled with Rhenish, From that fiery blood of dragons

Never would his own replenish.

Even Redi, though he chanted

Bacchus in the Tuscan valleys, Never drank the wine he vaunted

In his dithyrambic sallies. Then with water fill the pitcher

Wreathed about with classic fables ; Ne'er Falernian threw a richer

Light upon Lucullus' tables. Come, old friend, sit down and listen !

As it passes thus between us, How its wavelets laugh and glisten

In the head of old Silenus !

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