Of all the gracious gifts of Spring,
Is there another can safely surpass
This delicate, voluptuous thing--
This dapple-green, plump-shouldered bass?
Upon a damask napkin laid,
What exhalations superfine
Our gustatory nerves pervade,
Provoking quenchless thirsts for wine.
The ancients loved this noble fish,
And, coming from the kitchen fire
All piping hot upon a dish,
What raptures did he not inspire!
"Fish should swim twice," they used to say--
Once in their native vapid brine,
And then a better way--
You understand? Fetch on the wine!
Ah, dainty monarch of the flood,
How often have I cast for you--
How often sadly seen you scud
Where weeds and pussy willows grew!
How often have you filched my bait!
How often have you snapped my treacherous line!--
Yet here I have you on this plate.
You _shall_ swim twice, and _now_ in _wine_!
And, harkee, garcon! let the blood
Of cobwebbed years be spilt for him--
Aye, in a rich Burgundy flood
This piscatorial pride should swim;
So, were he living, he should say
He gladly died for me and mine,
And, as it was his native spray,
He'd lash the sauce--What, ho! the wine!
I would it were ordained for me
To share your fate, oh finny friend!
I surely were not loath to be
Reserved for such a noble end;
For when old Chronos, gaunt and grim,
At last reels in his ruthless line,
What were my ecstacy to swim
In wine, in wine, in glorious wine!
Well, here's a health to you, sweet Spring!
And, prithee, whilst I stick to earth,
Come hither every year and bring
The boons provocative of mirth;
And should your stock of bass run low,
However much I might repine,
I think I might survive the blow
If plied with wine, and still more wine!