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Drinking Song -- J K Stephen

(Poem #1473) Drinking Song
 There are people, I know, to be found,
   Who say, and apparently think,
 That sorrow and care may be drowned
   By a timely consumption of drink.

 Does not man, these enthusiasts ask,
   Most nearly approach the divine,
 When engaged in the soul-stirring task
   Of filling his body with wine?

 Have not beggars been frequently known,
   When satisfied, soaked, and replete,
 To imagine their bench was a throne
   And the civilised world at their feet?

 Lord Byron has finely described
   The remarkably soothing effect
 Of liquor, profusely imbibed,
   On a soul that is shattered and wrecked.

 In short, if your body or mind
   Or your soul or your purse come to grief,
 You need only get drunk, and you'll find
   Complete and immediate relief.

 For myself, I have managed to do
   Without having recourse to this plan,
 So I can't write a poem for you,
   And you'd better get someone who can.
-- J K Stephen
"Get drunk!" urges Baudelaire. "Turn down an empty glass!", Khayyam
exhorts us. Well, in today's poem - and in particular the last verse -
Stephen stands on its head the image of the sober man as a dry,
humourless stick-in-the-mud. Suffice it to say that I laughed out loud in
sheer surprise and delight when I reached the end.

While Stephen was, sadly, struck down before he managed to transcend "minor
poet" status, his talent is unmistakable; personally, his ability to
blend humour with an elegantly restrained understatement is as impressive
as it is delightful.



 Brief biography and assessment:

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