Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, VENDEMIAIRE, by GUILLAUME APOLLINAIRE



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

VENDEMIAIRE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Remember me you men in years to come
Last Line: With the fading stars dawn was about to break
Alternate Author Name(s): Kostrowitzky, Wilhelm Apollina
Subject(s): Drinks & Drinking; Paris, France; Wine


Remember me you men in years to come
My lifetime saw the passing away of kings
Silent and glum they perished one by one
Who were thrice brave reduced to conjuring

In Paris how charmingly September closed
Each night grew like a vine whose branches spread
Light upon that city while overhead
Ripe stars pecked at by my glory's tipsy birds
Hung waiting to be gathered in the dawn

Passing the shadowy empty quays one night
As I came back to Auteuil I heard a voice
Singing a grave song phrased with silences
Through which there rose from all along the Seine
Farther voices in distant pure lament

Long I stood listening to these cries and songs
Stirred by the voice of Paris in the night

Cities of France of Europe of all the world
I am thirsty drain into my deep throat

Then I saw that Paris already drunk in the vine
Was gathering the sweetest grape that the world knows
The marvelous fruit singing from the trellises

And Rennes answered for Quimper and for Vannes
We are here O Paris Our houses our citizens

These grapes of our senses engendered by the sun
Perish to quench your thirst too urgent a prodigy
To all of you we bring minds graveyards and walls
And cradles filled with cries that you will not hear
Upstream or down O rivers our thoughts are yours
The ears of the schools and our joined hands
Fingers pricked up like parish steeples
We bring you the lithe power of reason too
Mystery that shuts as a door shuts the house
The gallant mystery of ancient courtesy
Mystery fatal fatal in another life

Double reason existing beyond beauty
Unknown to Greece unknown to the Orient
The double reason of Brittany where wave by wave
The ocean slowly gelds the continent

Gaily the cities of the North replied

O Paris we are yours your lively drinks
The virile cities where metallic saints
Talk and sing in our consecrated mills
Sky-open our chimneys fill the clouds
As once Ixion good mechanic did
And our numberless hands
Shops mills factories hands
Where workers naked as our fingers fashion
Reality for whatever wage an hour
All that we give you

And Lyon answered as the angels of Fourvieres
Wove a new heaven with the silk of prayer

Refresh your thirst Paris with the divine words
Murmured by my two lips the Rhone and the Saone
The same cult rising always from its death
Puts saints asunder here and rains down blood
Fortunate rain O tepid drops O pain
A child watches windows opening wide
And grapes yielding themselves to drunken birds

And then the cities of the South replied

Great Paris last refuge of living reason
Ordering our moods as your destiny compels
And you O Mediterranean drawing back
Divide our bodies as it were the broken Host
These lofty loves and this orphan dance of theirs
Shall be the pure wine O Paris that you love

An endless death-rattle rose from Sicily
Composing words in a long whir of wings

All the grapes have been gathered from our vines
And this fruit of the dead whose flattened seeds
Taste of the blood of earth and of its salt
All is yours for your thirst Paris beneath
A sky curtained by hungry clouds
Petted by Ixion that indirect creator
And all the crows of Africa hatch in this sea

O grapes And these leaden and domestic eyes
Future and life mope in the trellises

But where are the sirens with gleaming stare
That trapped the mariners whom these birds loved
There is no gleam now from the Skyllan rock
Where once serene and soft three voices sang

Suddenly the aspect of the strait had changed
Faces of wave-flesh or of
Whatever else the mind can summon up
You are only masks imposed upon faces masked

He smiled that young swimmer in midstream
Among the drowned floating on that new flood
And the plaintive singers fled in pursuit of him

They said farewell to whirlpool and to rock
To their pale husbands stretched on the terraces
Then set their flight toward the burning sun
Along the wave where the great stars plunge down

When night returned covered with open eyes
To wander where the hydra hissed this winter
And suddenly I heard your imperious voice
O Rome
Damn with one breath all my accustomed thoughts
And the sky where love shepherds our destinies

The sprung iron bands on the tree of the Cross
And even the fleur-de-lis dying in the Vatican
Compounded in this wine I offer you having
A taste of the pure blood of one familiar
With a vegetal liberty you do not know
For the essential power that it is

The triple crown is fallen on the flagstones
And hierarchs kick it with their sandaled feet
O democratic splendor fading now
Let the royal night descend and the beasts be killed
Wolf-bitch and lamb eagle and mild dove
A crowd of kings hostile and merciless
Thirsting like you in the eternal vine
Shall spring from the ground and come down from the air
For a drink of my twice millenary wine

In silence now the Moselle meets the Rhine
At Coblenz it is Europe praying night and day
And I who lingered on the Auteuil quay
As the spaced hours drifted down like leaves
I heard the timely prayer of the vine stock
Joining the liquid purity of the rivers

O Paris your own wine is better than this
Grown on our banks but on branches from the north

All the grapes are ripe for this terrible thirst
My masculine strong grapes bleeding in the press
You will drink down in long draughts all of Europe's blood
Because you are beautiful because only you are noble
And because it is in you that God becomes
And these vintners of mine in their elegant houses
That flash fire each evening across our waters
In these fine houses stark white and black
Not knowing the real you they chant your glory
But we join our liquid hands in prayer
Leading the restless floods down to the brine
And the city lying between our two blades
Sheds no light on its two waters as it sleeps
While from time to time a far-off whistle
Troubles the sleeping daughters of Coblenz

And now the cities were answering by the hundreds
I could no longer distinguish their distant speech
And Trier that venerable city
Joined its voice with theirs

All the universe centered in this wine
Containing seas animals plants
Cities and their fate and the singing stars

Men kneeling on Heaven's bank
And docile iron our good companion
And fire lovable as one's own self
All the haughty dead united behind my brow
The lightning flash quick as a newborn thought
All names six by six all numbers one by one
Tons of paper twisting like flame
And those coming someday to whiten our bones
The good immortal worms so demurely bored
Armies ranged as for battle
Crucifix forests and the lacustrine dwellings
Along the shores of her eyes whom I love so
And flowers crying out of mouths
And everything that I can not say
Everything that I shall never know
All of it all of its changed into this pure wine

For which Paris thirsted
Then was revealed to me

Accomplishments pleasant days horror nights
Vegetation Couplings eternal music
Motions Adorations divine regret
Worlds self-mirroring mirroring us
I have drunk you without being slaked

But I have known since how the universe tastes

I am drunk from drinking the whole universe
On the dock by the river flood and the sleeping barges

Oh hear me I am the gullet of Paris
If I like I will drink the universe again

Listen to my song of cosmic drunkenness

The September night was ending slowly
The red bridge-fires were dying in the Seine
With the fading stars Dawn was about to break





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