A TUMBLER OF CLARET

I poured out a tumbler of Claret,
   Of course with intention to drink,
And, holding it up in the sunlight,
   I paused for a moment to think.
I really can't tell you what made me;
   I never had done so before,
Though for years, every day at my dinner,
   I had emptied one tumbler or more.

"A friend" in the loneliest hours,
   "A companion," I called the red wine,
And sometimes I poetized slightly,
   And called it a "nectar divine."
But to-day as I gazed at the claret,
   That sparkled and glowed in the sun,
I asked it, "What have you done for me,
   That any true friend would have done?

"You have given me some pleasant feelings,
   But they always were followed by pain.
You have given me ten thousand headaches,
   And are ready to do it again.
You have set my blood leaping and bounding,
   Which, though pleasant, was hurtful, no doubt,
And, if I keep up the acquaintance,
    I am sure you will give me the gout.

'I remember a certain occasion,
   When you caused me to act like a fool.
And, yes, I remember another
   When you made me fall into a pool.
And there was Tom Smithers--you killed him!
   Will Howard you made a poor knave.
Both my friends! and I might count a dozen
   You have sent to the prison or grave.

"Is this like a loyal friend's treatment?
   And are you deserving the name?
Say! what do you give those who love you
   But poverty, sorrow, and shame?
A few paltry moments of pleasure,
   And ages of trouble and grief.
No wonder you blush in the sunlight,
   You robber, you liar, you thief!

"I will have nothing more to do with you,
   From this moment, this hour, this day.
To send you adrift, bag and baggage,
   I know is the only safe way."
And I poured out that tumbler of claret,
   Poured it out, and not down, on the spot.
And all this you see was accomplished,
   By a few sober moments of thought.

Drops of Water: Poems by Ella Wheeler
New York : The National Temperance Society and Publication House, 1872.


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