[During an anti-saloon campaign, in central Illinois.]
In the midst of the battle I turned, (For the thunders could flourish without me) And hid by a rose-hung wall, Forgetting the murder about me; And wrote, from my wound, on the stone, In mirth, half prayer, half play: â€” "Send me a picture book, Send me a song, to-day."
I saw him there by the wall When I scarce had written the line, In the enemy's colors dressed And the serpent-standard of wine Writhing its withered length From his ghostly hands o'er the ground, And there by his shadowy breast The glorious poem I found.
This was his world-old cry: Thus read the famous prayer: "Wine, wine, wine and flowers And cup-bearers always fair!" 'Twas a book of the snares of earth Bordered in gold and blue, And I read each line to the wind And read to the roses too: And they nodded their womanly heads And told to the wall just why For wine of the earth men bleed, Kingdoms and empires die. I envied the grape stained sage: (The roses were praising him.) The ways of the world seemed good And the glory of heaven dim. I envied the endless kings Who found great pearls in the mire, Who bought with the nation's life The cup of delicious fire.
But the wine of God came down, And I drank it out of the air. (Fair is the serpent-cup, But the cup of God more fair.) The wine of God came down That makes no drinker to weep. And I went back to battle again Leaving the singer asleep.