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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Robert Hinckley Messinger (1811–1874)

Give Me the Old

“Old Wine to drink, Old Wood to burn, Old Books to read, Old Friends to converse with.”

OLD wine to drink!

Ay, give the slippery juice

That drippeth from the grape thrown loose

Within the tun;

Plucked from beneath the cliff

Of sunny-sided Teneriffe,

And ripened ’neath the blink

Of India’s sun!

Peat whisky hot,

Tempered with well-boiled water!

These make the long night shorter:

Forgetting not

Good stout old English porter.

Old wood to burn!

Ay, bring the hillside beech

From where the owlets meet and screech,

And ravens croak;

The crackling pine, and cedar sweet:

Bring too a clump of fragrant peat,

Dug ’neath the fern;

The knotted oak,

A fagot too, perhap,

Whose bright flame dancing, winking,

Shall light us at our drinking;

While the oozing sap

Shall make sweet music to our thinking.

Old books to read!

Ay, bring those nodes of wit,

The brazen-clasped, the vellum-writ.

Time-honored tomes!

The same my sire scanned before,

The same my grandsire thumbed o’er,

The same his sire from college bore,—

The well-earned meed

Of Oxford’s domes:

Old Homer blind,

Old Horace, rake Anacreon, by

Old Tully, Plautus, Terence, lie;

Mort Arthur’s olden minstrelsie,

Quaint Burton, quainter Spenser, ay!

And Gervase Markham’s venerie:

Nor leave behind

The Holye Book by which we live and die.

Old friends to talk!

Ay, bring those chosen few,

The wise, the courtly, and the true,

So rarely found:

Him for my wine, him for my stud.

Him for my easel, distich, bud

In mountain walk!

Bring Walter good,

With soulful Fred, and learned Will:

And thee, my alter ego (dearer still

For every mood).