Bacchus: Or, The Vines Of Lesbos

Thomas Parnell 1679 (Dublin) – 1718

As Bacchus ranging at his leisure,
(Io Bacchus! king of pleasure)
Charm'd the wide world with drink and dances,
And all his thousand airy fancies;
Alas! he quite forgot the while
His fav'rite vines in Lesbos isle.

The God returning ere they died,
Ah! see my jolly Fawns, he cried,
The leaves but hardly born are red,
And the bare arms for pity spread;
The beasts afford a rich manure,
Fly, my boys, and bring the cure,
Up the mountains, down the vales;
Thro' the woods, and o'er the dales;
For this, if full the clusters grow,
Your bowls shall doubly overflow.

So chear'd, with more officious haste
They bring the dung of ev'ry beast,
The loads they wheel, the roots they bare,
They lay the rich manure with care,
While oft he calls to labour hard,
And names as oft the red reward.

The plants revive, new leaves appear,
The thick'ning clusters load the year;
The season swiftly purple grew,
The grapes hung dangling deep with blue.

A vineyard ripe a day serene
Now calls them all to work again;
The Fawns thro' ev'ry furrow shoot
To load their flaskets with the fruit;
And now the vintage early trod,
The wines invite the jovial God.

Strow the roses, raise the song,
See the master comes along!
Lusty Revel join'd with Laughter,
Whim and Frolic follow after.
The Fawns beside the vatts remain
To shew the work, and reap the gain.

All around, and all around
They sit to riot on the ground,
A vessel stands amidst the ring,
And here they laugh, and there they sing;
Or rise a jolly jolly band,
And dance about it hand in hand;
Dance about, and shout amain,
Then sit to laugh and sing again.

But, as an antient author sung,
The vine manur'd with ev'ry dung,
From ev'ry creature strangely drew,
A tang of brutal nature too;
'Twas hence in drinking on the lawns
New turns of humour seiz'd the Fawns.

Here one was crying out, by Jove!
Another, fight me in the grove;
This wounds a friend, and that the trees;
The Lion's temper reign'd in these.

Another grins and leaps about,
And keeps a merry world of rout,
And talks impertinently free;
And twenty talk the same as he:
Chatt'ring, airy, idle, kind:
These take the Monkey-turn of mind.

Here one who saw the nymphs that stood
To peep upon them from the wood,
Steals off, to try if any maid
Be lagging late beneath the shade;
While loose discourse another raises
In naked Nature's plainest phrases;
And ev'ry glass he drinks enjoys
With change of nonsense, lust and noise;
Mad and careless, hot and vain,
Such as these the Goat retain.

Another drinks and casts it up,
And drinks and wants another cup,
Solemn, silent, and sedate,
Ever long and ever late,
Full of meats and full of wine;
This takes his temper from the swine.

Here some who hardly seem to breathe,
Drink and hang the jaw beneath,
Gaping, tender, apt to weep;
Their natures alter'd by the sheep.

'Twas thus one autumn all the crew
(If what the Poets sing be true)
While Bacchus made the merry feast
Inclin'd to one or other beast;
And since 'tis said for many a mile
He spread the vines of Lesbos isle.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011


Thomas Parnell

Thomas Parnell was an Anglo-Irish poet and clergyman who was a friend of both Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift. He was the son of Thomas Parnell of Maryborough, Queen's County now Port Laoise, County Laoise}, a prosperous landowner who had been a loyal supporter of Cromwell during the English Civil War and moved to Ireland after the restoration of the monarchy. Thomas was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and collated archdeacon of Clogher in 1705. He however spent much of his time in London, where he participated with Pope, Swift and others in the Scriblerus Club, contributing to The Spectator and aiding Pope in his translation of The Iliad. He was also one of the so-called "Graveyard poets": his 'A Night-Piece on Death,' widely considered the first "Graveyard School" poem, was published posthumously in Poems on Several Occasions, collected and edited by Alexander Pope and is thought by some scholars to have been published in December of 1721 (although dated in 1722 on its title page, the year accepted by The Concise Oxford Chronology of English Literature; see 1721 in poetry, 1722 in poetry). It is said of his poetry 'it was in keeping with his character, easy and pleasing, ennunciating the common places with felicity and grace. more…

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