R2533-251 Poem: The Old Decanter

::R2533 : page 251::


“There was an old decanter,
and its mouth was gaping
wide; the rosy wine had
ebbed away and left its
crystal side; and the
wind went humming
humming, up and
down the sides it
flew, and through
its reed-like, hollow
neck, the wildest notes
it blew. I placed it in
the window, where the
blast was blowing free, and
fancied that its pale mouth
sang the queerest strains to me.
“They tell me—puny conquerors!
the Plague has slain his ten, and
War his hundred thousand of the very
best of men; but I,”—’twas thus the bottle
spake—”but I have conquered more than all
your famous conquerors so feared and famed of
yore. Then come, ye youths and maidens all, come
drink from out my cup, the beverage that dulls the
brains and burns the spirits up; that puts to shame
your conquerors that slay their scores below, for
this has deluged millions with the lava tide of
woe. Though in the path of battle darkest
waves of blood may roll; yet while
I killed the body, I have damned
the very soul. The cholera,
the plagues, the sword, such
ruin never wrought as I, in mirth or
malice, on the innocent have brought.
And still I breathe upon them, and they
shrink before my breath; and year by year my
thousands tread the dismal road of DEATH.”


— November 15, 1899 —