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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Francesco Redi (1626–1697)

Diatribe Against Water

From “Bacchus in Tuscany”

HE who drinks water,

I wish to observe,

Gets nothing from me;

He may eat it and starve.

Whether it’s well, or whether it’s fountain,

Or whether it comes foaming white from the mountain,

I cannot admire it,

Nor ever desire it.

’Tis a fool, and a madman, an impudent wretch,

Who now will live in a nasty ditch,

And then grows proud, and full of his whims,

Comes playing the devil, and cursing his brims,

And swells, and tumbles, and bothers his margins,

And ruins the flowers, although they be virgins.

Wharves and piers, were it not for him,

Would last forever,

If they’re built clever;

But no, it’s all one with him—sink or swim.

Let the people yclept Mameluke

Praise the Nile without any rebuke;

Let the Spaniards praise the Tagus;

I cannot like either, even for negus.

If any follower of mine

Dares so far to forget his wine

As to drink a drop of water,

Here’s the hand to devote him to slaughter.

Let your meager doctorlings

Gather herbs and such like things,

Fellows who with streams and stills

Think to cure all sorts of ills;

I’ve no faith in their washery,

Nor think it worth a glance of my eye.

Yes, I laugh at them, for that matter,

To think how they, with their heaps of water,

Petrify their skulls profound,

And make ’em all so thick and so round,

That Viviana, with all his mathematics,

Would fail to square the circle of their attics.

Away with all water wherever I come;

I forbid it ye, gentlemen, all and some.

Lemonade water,

Jessamine water,

Our tavern knows none of ’em—

Water’s a hum!

Jessamine makes a pretty crown,

But as a drink ’twill never go down.

All your hydromels and flips

Come not near these prudent lips.

All your sippings and sherbets,

And a thousand such pretty sweets,

Let your mincing ladies take ’em,

And fops whose little fingers ache ’em.

Wine, wine is your only drink!

Grief never dares to look at the brink.

Six times a year to be mad with wine,

I hold it no shame, but a very good sign.

I, for my part, take my can,

Solely to act like a gentleman,

And, acting so, I care not, I,

For all the hail and snow in the sky.

I never go poking,

And cowering and cloaking,

And wrapping myself from head to foot,

As some people do, with their wigs to boot—

For example, like dry and shivering Redi,

Who looks just like a peruk’d old lady.