At Dawn and Dusk

In a Wine Cellar

Victor James Daley

SEE how it flashes,
    This grape-blood fine!—
Our beards it splashes,
    O comrade mine!—
Life dust and ashes
    Were, wanting wine.

    Fires heart and eyes;
Champagne the shadow
    Of care defies;
An El Dorado
    In Rhine-wine lies;

Port has the mintage
    Of generous deeds;
Tokay scorns stintage
    And richly bleeds;
But this great vintage
    The Wine-March leads.

Yet it is wanting
    In poesy;
No legends haunting
    Its vassals be,
No tales enchanting
    Of chivalry.

Spain’s grape hath stories;
    Its blood the bold
    Drank deep of old—
A wine of glories,
    A wine of gold.

Who drinks not sparing,
    Beholdeth he
The great Cid bearing
    His banner free,
Columbus daring
    The unknown Sea,

And, haply biding,
    In this dream-Spain,
Don Quixote riding
    Across the plain,
His squire confiding
    Beside his rein.

The wine of France is
    Aglow to-day
With flash of lances,
    With feast and fray,
And dark-eyed glances
    Of ladies gay.

See where together,
    A flagon near,
Lie hat with feather,
    And long rapier—
Fine courting weather,
    O Cavalier!

Bright Rhenish, gleaming
    Moon-white! Perchance
Thy wave clear beaming
    Still guards Romance,
Not dead, but dreaming
    In spell-bound trance!

Not in Rhine-water,
    But Rhine-wine fair
Sir Rupert sought her
    (As bards declare)
The Rhine King’s daughter
    With golden hair.

Still ’neath its smiling
    Wave’s amber rings,
Men sweetly wiling
    From earthly things,
Her song beguiling
    The Loreley sings.

Your cup, wild siren,
    That Deutschland drains—
Her heart of iron
    Moved by your strains—
No blood shall fire in
    Australian veins;

Nor yours whose charm is
    Your topaz eyne,
Nor yours whose armies
    In gold caps shine,
Shall charm or harm us—
    Eh, comrade mine?

No vintage alien
    For thee or me!
Our fount Castalian
    Of poesy
Shall wine Australian,
    None other be.

Then place your hand in
    This hand of mine,
And while we stand in
    Her brave sunshine
Pledge deep our land in
    Our land’s own wine.

It has no glamour
    Of old romance,
Of war and amour
    In Spain or France;
Its poets stammer
    As yet, perchance;

But he may wholly
    Become a seer
Who quaffs it slowly;
    For he shall hear,
Though faintly, lowly,
    Yet sweet and clear,

The axes ringing
    On mountain sides,
The wool-boats swinging
    Down Darling tides,
The drovers singing
    Where Clancy rides,

The miners driving,
    The stockman’s strife;
All sounds conniving
    To tell the rife,
Rich, rude, strong-striving
    Australian life.

Once more your hand in
    This hand of mine!
And while we stand in
    The brave sunshine,
Pledge deep our land in
    Our land’s own wine!

At Dawn and Dusk - Contents

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