'Bacchus' by Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Bring me wine, but wine which never grew
In the belly of the grape,
Or grew on vine whose taproots reaching through
Under the Andes to the Cape,
Suffered no savor of the world to 'scape.
Let its grapes the morn salute
From a nocturnal root
Which feels the acrid juice
Of Styx and Erebus,
And turns the woe of night,
By its own craft, to a more rich delight.
We buy ashes for bread,
We buy diluted wine;
Give me of the true,
Whose ample leaves and tendrils curled
Among the silver hills of heaven,
Draw everlasting dew;
Wine of wine,
Blood of the world,
Form of forms and mould of statures,
That I; intoxicated,
And by the draught assimilated,
May float at pleasure through all natures,
The bird-language rightly spell,
And that which roses say so well.
Wine that is shed
Like the torrents of the sun
Up the horizon walls;
Or like the Atlantic streams which run
When the South Sea calls.
Water and bread;
Food which needs no transmuting,
Wine which is already man,
Food which teach and reason can.
Wine which music is;
Music and wine are one;
That I, drinking this,
Shall hear far chaos talk with me,
Kings unborn shall walk with me,
And the poor grass shall plot and plan
What it will do when it is man:
Quickened so, will I unlock
Every crypt of every rock.
I thank the joyful juice
For all I know;
Winds of remembering
Of the ancient being blow,
And seeming-solid walls ot use
Open and flow.
Pour, Bacchus, the remembering wine;
Retrieve the loss of me and mine;
Vine for vine be antidote,
And the grape requite the lot.
Haste to cure the old despair,
Reason in nature's lotus drenched,
The memory of ages quenched;—
Give them again to shine.
Let wine repair what this undid,
And where the infection slid,
And dazzling memory revive.
Refresh the faded tints,
Recut the aged prints,
And write my old adventures, with the pen
Which, on the first day, drew
Upon the tablets blue
The dancing Pleiads, and the eternal men.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Bacchus: A Poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Bacchus, the god of wine and ecstasy, has been a popular subject in literature for ages. Many poets have attempted to capture the essence of Bacchus in their works, but perhaps none have done it quite as well as Ralph Waldo Emerson. In his poem, aptly titled "Bacchus," Emerson brings to life the spirit of Bacchus in a way that is both captivating and mesmerizing.
Overview of the Poem
"Bacchus" is a short poem consisting of only six stanzas. Each stanza contains four lines and follows a simple ABAB rhyme scheme. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, which gives it a rhythmic and musical quality.
The poem begins with the speaker describing Bacchus as the god of wine and revelry. He is depicted as a being of immense power and energy, capable of inspiring both joy and terror in those who encounter him. The speaker then goes on to describe the various ways in which Bacchus is celebrated, from the drinking of wine to the dancing and singing that accompanies it.
In the second stanza, the speaker describes Bacchus as a force of nature, capable of bringing life to the barren earth. He is described as a "mighty lord," whose very presence is enough to make the earth bloom with new life.
The third stanza is perhaps the most striking in the poem. Here, the speaker describes Bacchus as a god of both life and death. He is depicted as a figure who brings both joy and sorrow, who is both beautiful and terrible.
The fourth stanza is a celebration of Bacchus's power over the human heart. The speaker describes how Bacchus can inspire even the most stoic of individuals to let loose and experience the joy of life.
In the fifth stanza, the speaker describes the various symbols associated with Bacchus, from the grapevine to the ivy that adorns his temples. These symbols are seen as representative of Bacchus's power over the natural world.
Finally, in the sixth stanza, the speaker brings the poem to a close by exhorting the reader to join in the celebration of Bacchus. He encourages us to drink and dance and sing, to let ourselves be carried away by the joy and ecstasy that Bacchus inspires.
Analysis of the Poem
At its core, "Bacchus" is a celebration of life and the joy that can be found in it. Emerson uses the figure of Bacchus as a symbol of this joy, depicting him as a force of nature that can bring new life to the world and inspire even the most stoic of individuals to let loose and experience the beauty of existence.
One of the most striking things about the poem is the way in which Emerson portrays Bacchus as a figure of both life and death. In the third stanza, he describes Bacchus as a god who brings both joy and sorrow, who is both beautiful and terrible. This duality is a common theme in Emerson's work, and it speaks to his belief in the interconnectedness of all things. In Emerson's view, life and death are not separate entities, but rather two sides of the same coin. Bacchus embodies this idea, representing both the beauty and the terror of existence.
Another interesting aspect of the poem is the way in which Emerson uses imagery to paint a vivid picture of Bacchus and his power. The symbols associated with Bacchus, from the grapevine to the ivy, are seen as representative of his ability to bring new life to the world. The image of Bacchus as a "mighty lord" who can make the barren earth bloom with new life is particularly striking, and it speaks to the power of nature to renew and rejuvenate itself.
At the same time, Emerson also emphasizes Bacchus's power over the human heart. He describes how Bacchus can inspire even the most stoic of individuals to let loose and experience the joy of life. This idea is central to Emerson's philosophy, which emphasizes the importance of living in the present moment and embracing the beauty of existence.
In "Bacchus," Ralph Waldo Emerson has created a powerful and evocative portrait of the god of wine and ecstasy. Through his use of imagery, rhythm, and language, Emerson brings to life the spirit of Bacchus in a way that is both captivating and mesmerizing.
At its core, "Bacchus" is a celebration of life and the joy that can be found in it. Emerson's message is clear: we should embrace the beauty of existence, let ourselves be carried away by the joy and ecstasy of life, and celebrate the natural world in all its glory. It is a message that is as relevant today as it was when Emerson first wrote this poem, and it is one that we would all do well to remember.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Bacchus: A Poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson, the renowned American poet, essayist, and philosopher, is known for his transcendentalist writings that explore the relationship between nature and the human spirit. His poem "Bacchus" is a perfect example of his unique style and perspective, as it delves into the themes of wine, ecstasy, and the divine.
The poem begins with a description of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, who is portrayed as a powerful and charismatic figure. Emerson writes, "Bacchus, that first from out the purple grape / Crushed the sweet poison of misused wine." Here, the poet is referring to the mythological story of Bacchus, who is said to have discovered the art of winemaking and introduced it to the world. The phrase "sweet poison" is a paradoxical expression that highlights the dual nature of wine, which can be both pleasurable and dangerous.
Emerson then goes on to describe the effects of wine on the human mind and body. He writes, "The subtle poison creeps through every vein, / A feverish thirst for blood and gold." This line suggests that wine has the power to intoxicate and corrupt those who indulge in it excessively. The reference to "blood and gold" is a metaphor for the destructive and greedy impulses that can arise from excessive drinking.
However, Emerson does not view wine as purely negative or harmful. He also acknowledges its ability to inspire creativity and passion. He writes, "The wild-eyed Bacchanal leaps into the dance, / And the stars glimmer with the mazy round." This line suggests that wine can lead to a state of ecstasy and abandon, where one is free to express oneself without inhibition. The image of the stars "glimmering" with the dance suggests a sense of cosmic harmony and unity.
Emerson then shifts his focus to the spiritual dimension of wine, suggesting that it has the power to connect us with the divine. He writes, "The god, enraptured, dances with his train, / And the whole world dances with him again." Here, the poet is suggesting that wine can lead to a state of transcendence, where one feels connected to something greater than oneself. The image of the "whole world" dancing with Bacchus suggests a sense of universal harmony and oneness.
Emerson concludes the poem with a call to embrace the power of wine and its ability to inspire us to live fully and passionately. He writes, "Then let me quaff the foaming juice divine, / And in its inspiration speak my line." This line suggests that the poet is willing to embrace the intoxicating power of wine in order to tap into his own creative potential. The phrase "foaming juice divine" is a metaphor for the divine inspiration that can arise from drinking wine.
In conclusion, "Bacchus" is a powerful and evocative poem that explores the complex relationship between wine, ecstasy, and the divine. Emerson's use of vivid imagery and paradoxical expressions creates a sense of tension and ambiguity that reflects the dual nature of wine. While acknowledging its potential for harm and excess, he also celebrates its ability to inspire creativity, passion, and transcendence. Ultimately, the poem is a call to embrace the power of wine and its ability to connect us with the divine.
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