As a student of literature, college was filled with a mix of poetry and prose from the past millennium. Having read a breadth and depth of classic and contemporary pieces, I can confidently say that wars, women and, thankfully, wine, have dominated writerly interests for more than one thousand years.
Wars, we know, usually inspire thoughts about world-ending chaos, disillusionment and destruction. Women have elicited a range of work that laments unrequited love, marvels at their strength, beauty and power, or quite simply, talks about a nasty breakup.
But wine—that’s a pretty happy topic. Hemingway says he wishes he would’ve had more of it. Baudelaire says you should always be full of it. Woolf compared language to wine upon one’s lips.
We’ve got a curated list of landmark poetry about wine that will help you get your scholar on next time you get your sip on.
I first learned about Yeats by reading “The Second Coming,” which, incidentally, is about war (and inspired the title of the essay collection featured in this Pages and Pairings post). Yeats is an incisive and cynical poet, but his writing is lauded as some of the best-constructed and poignant literature of the 20th century. “A Drinking Song” is short enough to memorize for an overwrought dinner-party delivery, and with a little practice, can surely elicit some laughs.
Feeling a smidge melodramatic? Me too, usually. In this poem, the slightly heady Baudelaire gives grandpa’s best advice with all the poesy he can muster: when life is treating you rough, get some sleep or get some wine. If you’re feeling like the Parisian proletariat, this poem’s got you.
Like a good glass of wine, this one is a short and sweet two-stanza piece that reminds us all that falling in love is a lot like imbibing—something sweet, something slow and something satisfying. This one is for the happy heart.
With these to get you started, venture into the literary vineyard on your own and find a few verses to satisfy your poetic palette.