Bring me wine, but wine which never grew
In the belly of the grape,
Or grew on vine whose tap-roots, reaching through
Under the Andes to the Cape,
Suffer no savor of the earth 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 mold 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,
Rainbow-flowering, wisdom-fruiting,
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 of use
Open and flow.

Pour, Bacchus! the remembering wine;
Retrieve the loss of men and mine!
Vine for vine be antidote,
And the grape requite the lote!
Haste to cure the old despair,
Reason in Nature’s lotus drenched,
The memory of ages quenched;
Give them again to shine;
A 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 eternal men.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Ralph Waldo Emerson's poem Bacchus

4 Comments

  1. MJ says:

    Amanda — I would argue against that because Bacchus is the Roman god of wine, Chaos is the Greek/Roman creator and Styx and Erebus are rivers in Greco-Roman mythology. So I wouldn’t say this is a Christian based poem. It seems to be a modern take on ancient mythology.

  2. Adam says:

    Celebration of life and wisdom. Love and beauty. Music, directly from the soul. People often settle, but truth is rich and pure. Nature…The marriage of light and darkness. If the beauty is hard to see, take a sip of meloncholy. Be one with truth.

  3. Mark says:

    Bacchus seems to me to be about inspiration. Perhaps I see it this way because I have been trying to write poetry and am seeing how inspiration is so helpful to the creative process.

  4. Amanda says:

    I think that Bacchus is about Jesus and the blood He shed for us. The “Wine” represents His blood because the poem talks about the wine being “the blood of the world.”

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