The Rubáiyát of a Rum-Seller
|LOSE up your swinging bar-room door tonight,—|
Take off your apron and your jacket white,—
You never shall reopen anymore,
So reads the law—the law is ever right!
|OR centuries you've kept an open shop|
Where thirsty travelers were fain to stop
And to partake of your polluted wares—
Hereafter they shall nary take a drop!
|OU must refrain to sell that devil's brew|
Which thousands of unfortunate creatures slew—
Brought poverty and want to thousands more—
Your cursed trade, from now on, is taboo!
|HAT if from heavy work their back is arched—|
If in the sun they many miles had marched—
A cooling swallow from the watertap
Will soon refreshen tongue and palate parched!
|INE is a mocker, and strong drink does rage,|
Just as it did in every time and age.
Eschew it, shun the filthy, pois'nous draught,
For it will naught but misery presage.
|INCE every mother's son, you say, was born|
Did not the Lord grow barley, hops and corn?
What other use is there for grape and rye?
But that who wants, may have his little horn?
|ENIGHTED waster, hear: the grain we need|
The millions of our hungry kin to feed;
Those whom we sent to legislative halls
Have, wisely, so decided and decreed.
|RAPES were not grown therein to dissipate,|
But for some presidential candidate
And orator, to use their sweetly juice
His silver-tongue and throat to lubricate.
|N after years,—inscrutable and mute,|
On shelves of the Smithsonian Institute
There will be jars, hermetically sealed,
With liquids filled, which once did man pollute.
|ITHIN those flasks there will be spirts pent,|
Each catalogued and named with its content;
A silent witness for posterity—
To past debauchery a monument.
|HAT golden-hued extraction from the corn,|
In mountainous Kentucky's moonshine born,
Brought but delirious excess to those
Who trembling, blear-eyed, craved for it each morn,
|HAT amber fluid, sparkling in the sun|
Was "lagerbeer", drank muchly by the Hun,—
It caused the world's most horrible of wars,
And put their sotten armies on the run.
|HAT flask with liquid cristalline, named Gin|
Was much consumed by men of darkened skin;—
It set their beastly passions all aflame,
And drove them to atrocities and sin.
|HAT emerald-shining distillate of menthe,|
And next, the flask with nerve-killing Absinthe—
Had started thousands on the downward path,—
Formed for their young and ruined life the pinth.
|HE tawny mixture in that brown carafe|
Might have been ale, or stout, or 'alf-'n-'alf—
The lowly rabble of the British Isles
Much of it in their misery would quaff.
|ND so with all the bottles, down the line|
White, golden, amber, or incarnadine,—
Brought naught but curse on generations past—
Whether it whisky, cordial was, or wine.
|WAY with the despised drink, accurst!|
For if we ever wish to quench our thirst
Let us hie to the well, or rippling brook,
Let us drink water, water till we burst.—'
|OUR argument and logic will not down!|
For was there man of low or high renown,
That has in whisky, cordial, beer or wine,
(Though he had drank them) ever known to drown?
|UT many men, courageous and brave,|
Have found a desolate and sudden grave
In the deep river's swelling, rising flood,
Or in the treacherous, salty ocean wave.
|ITH resignation I accept my fate,|
To close my 'joint', as ordered, soon or late;
But what will be the politician's lot,
To whom I ever served as tempting bait?
|HE lobby-worker, whether big or small—'|
In council-room or legislative hall,
Who ever used the gin-mill as butt—
What NOW will serve his purpose as a stall?
|AS it a franchise or for light or gas,|
He wanted, surreptitiously, to pass
And let the goodly people's rights go hang,—
He rattled noisily the whisky glass!
|F railroad corporations looked for prey,|
To take a valuable right-of-way—
A rigid Sunday-closing liquor law
Would quickly all suspicious fear allay.
|HE senator, to raise a heavy tax,|
And shoulder it upon the poor men's backs,
Flaunts prohibition doctrines in your face,
To make your watchful scrutiny relax.
|IKE prestidigators on the stage,|
Who fool the public, just to earn their wage,
And wave a handkerchief before your face,—
And from a borrowed hat bring forth a cage,
|IVE rabbits, goldfish—bowls—and other stuff|
The objects are;—the kerchief is a bluff,
And being used but as a camouflage—
You watch the kerchief,—and the rest you muff.
|HE borrowed tile?—it is your valued vote,|
Their schemes and machinations to promote —
The rabbits?—special privilege and graft;—
The kerchief ?—the saloon they ever quote.
|ND after they, with pomp and hue, adjourn,|
Your bragging congressman will home return;
'I've put the kibosh on the demon drink'!
But of his evil acts you never learn!
|NOUGH of this; for what does it portend|
To have your legislator for a friend?
He shakes your hand and begs for your support,—
And when elected, 'does you,' in the end.
|ACH dollar, which is for my liquors spent,|
Serves e'en a patriotic, true intent;
Don't I contribute part to pay the sold
Of traffic-cop, as well as President?
|OW many are there, who will sadly miss,|
Their eye-opener, their nightcap, or their fizz—
To whom a night's carouse was endless joy—
A jag—the acme of all earthly bliss!
|HAT will the life be of your bon-vivant,|
Who ever worshipped women, wine and song?
His trinity will scatter into parts—
Just like a fork which lost its middle prong.
|ILL now your proud and mighty steamboats slide|
Into the dangerous tricky ocean-tide
Without the bottle broken on its bow—
Un-named, un-christened, and un-sanctified ?
|HAT is the future of the chorus-maid?|
What of the cabaret-frequenting jade?
The actress, fond of bathing in champagne
Must take ablutions now in lemonade.
|HE after-dinner speaker, who would boast|
About the virtues of his worthy host—
How can he the assembled guests enthuse
When he in buttermilk must give his toast?
|F all your writers and your bards were wrong,|
You must revise their story and their song,—
For e'en your holiest and best of Books
Refers to wine,—and other drink that's strong, ,
|OUR sculptors, painters, who to art devout,|
Depicted truly feast and drinking bout—
Even the artists of your magazines
Shall change their subjects.—or be driven out.
|OUR steins and beakers from your sideboard cull—|
At all your clubs your membership annul,
For it is there you drink and find good cheer—
Without the drink—'t were desolate and dull!
|RUE, many are there who, intemperate,|
Cannot their craving thirst for liquor sate—»
How will you force 'gainst appetite a law?
How will you for one's stomach legislate?
|T is a pity, there are many such,|
Who should not drink the stuff,—nor taste—nor touch—
As they know not the demarcation litie
Between what is "sufficient" from "too much".
| curse on him, whose eager drink's desire|
Makes him to dastardly, low crime aspire!
He who committeth murder, rape or theft
Through drunkenness, has earned the scorching pire!
|WICE cursed he he, whose thirst's insatiate greed|
Makes his dependents want for cloth and feed!
Who 'stead of comfort, happiness and cheer
Bring's wife and child but misery and need!
|UT is it reason, or enough excuse|
That for one man's irrational abuse
Of that, which otherwise portends no harm,
Its benefits the ninety-nine should lose?
|OULD you have stop apothecaries sell|
That which will ease your pain, or make you well,
Because the taking of an overdose
Has sent some fool to heaven or to hell?
|HOSE, who indulge in epicurian bout,|
And suffer with dispepsia and gout
As consequence,—would you their feasts outlaw?
He who provides them—would you drive him out?
|OW many thoughless, heedless wives aspire|
To jewels, ornaments and fine attire!
Is it the milliner's or jeweler's fault,
That they bring bankruptcy upon their sire?
|HOSE fashion shops, where all your ladies fair|
Procure the garments, hats and shoes they wear—
Would you them close—because the harlot buys
Her fin'ry there, her victims to ensnare?
|T takes a sober mind to figure crime!|
The burglar, cannot through your window climb—
Or open safes—nor can the forger pen
His false designs, when steeped in liquor's slime.
|OULD those, who, ever since the world began,|
Through schemes and tricks have robbed their fellowman,
Evolve their deals amidst a drunken brawl
Successfully educe their wicked plan?
|F you demolish every liquor-glass|
Will crimes and all their perpetrators pass
Into oblivion for evermore?
I fear they will be with us still—alas!
|FTER effacing every cheerful drink,|
And silencing the goblets' merry clink—
Ring you the bell at high Elysium's door?—
Do you expect to reach millenium's brink?
|F prohibition drives all vice away,|
And virtue and morality hold sway,—
Abolish all your judges and your courts—
Give the police continuous holiday!
|F your experiment will stand the test—|
Will misery, and want, and wrong arrest,—
And prove the panacea for all ills—
Then I shall gladly follow your behest.
|OYFULLY shall I close my bar-room door—|
Into the gutter all my liquor pour—
I shall repent, at leisure, for my sins—
My rum-hole shall be closed for evermore!
|Last modified: October 1, 2019||
Created by Petr Hloušek