Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Song of Right and Wrong

by G.K. Chesterton

Feast on wine or fast on water
And your honour shall stand sure,
God Almighty's son and daughter
He the valiant, she the pure;
If an angel out of heaven
Brings you other things to drink,
Thank him for his kind attentions,
Go and pour them down the sink.

Tea is like the East he grows in,
A great yellow Mandarin
With urbanity of manner
And unconsciousness of sin;
All the women, like a harem,
At his pig-tail troop along;
And, like all the East he grows in,
He is Poison when he's strong.

Tea, although an Oriental,
Is a gentleman at least;
Cocoa is a cad and coward,
Cocoa is a vulgar beast,
Cocoa is a dull, disloyal,
Lying, crawling cad and clown,
And may very well be grateful
To the fool that takes him down.

As for all the windy waters,
They were rained like tempests down
When good drink had been dishonoured
By the tipplers of the town;
When red wine had brought red ruin
And the death-dance of our times,
Heaven sent us Soda Water
As a torment for our crimes.

* * *

For once, I disagree with Chesterton. I am quite fond of cocoa. But I back him about "windy waters:" I really don't like fizzy stuff--fizzy water especially.

I'm posting this poem in honour of the fact that I am now 21 and legal to do most things -- although I think renting a car and being president are still beyond me. But being the legal drinking age is not very meaningful to me. I bought alcoholic drinks when I was in Rome, and besides, I am not very fond of them. I'm more of a water, tea, and cocoa person. Oh well.

Still, I do not disapprove of drinking. I disapprove highly of drunkenness: it seems perfect foolishness to me for people to go out and "get wasted," on purpose, until the next morning they can't even remember whether they had a good time or not. To me a good time is one where your wits are all about you, but you're in good company so that you're not ashamed to cut loose a bit. A little wine or beer won't harm this balance, but a lot very likely will.

Besides, as Chesterton points out, drunkenness dishonours good drink. The reason people tend to be Puritanical about it is because others are busy being Bacchanalian about it. All things in moderation, and we might avoid these two kinds of madness.

5 comments:

Leah said...

Happy Birthday! :-)

Ibid said...

Yea drinks. And birthdays.

At least you're turning 21 in the country. I'm hopping that fence in Ireland. i don't get to enjoy my age for like a week.

Sheila said...

Oh boo hoo for you. :P

Sorry, no sympathy. I am way too jealous that you're going to Ireland.

Wúlfilas said...

Happy Birthday!

I think if you don´t start to drink, you will not risk to drink so much and regret about it... :)

No sé si lo he dicho bien: No empieces a beber y no correrás el riesgo de luego arrepentirte,je,je :) Un saludo desde Madrid:

Javier

Sheila said...

Una repuesta para tí en espanol muy malo:

Si aprendo como beber en moderación, vino no es tan periculoso para mí. No te turbas: bebo solo un poquito -- no bebo mucho nunca. En verdad, no me gusta mucho el vino o la birra. :P Pero es muy importante para mí no condemnar nada que no es un pecado. En esta manero, evitamos el peligro de puritanismo, y no alejamos los a que se gustan las bevandas alcoólicas sin emborracharse.

* I really hope I said what I meant to. It got kind of awkward at the end. But I thought it was fair, if you spoke English, for me to speak a little Spanish.