Lines on Ale is, by some, attributed to Edgar Allan Poe, but disclaimed by the Poe Society of Baltimore as apocryphal. The story behind this bit of verse is as shady as a raven. Whether or not the man himself penned these lines, I wrote this silly bit of response poetry about a week ago, but must beg apologies of Charley at Life in Portofino for the resemblance to his recent post for this same challenge at dVerse. The wives must have their due.
Lines on Ale The Ale-Wive’s Response
Fill with mingled cream and amber, Filled with mingled irk and ire
I will drain that glass again. I will trench your gutters clear.
Such hilarious visions clamber Such indignant visions mount
Through the chamber of my brain — Through bed-chambers of this house–
Quaintest thoughts — queerest fancies Direst thoughts – retching children
Come to life and fade away; Come to spew, ailing with the flu;
What care I how time advances? What care you while drinking ale?
I am drinking ale today. I am home with mop and pail.
formerly attributed to Poe © Silly Jilly’s Response
I am guest-hosting Meeting the Bar at dVerse Poet’s Pub. I challenge my fellow poets to write response poetry. (See Marlowe and Ralegh’s poems for examples.) I have written a response in the voice of the snake to Denise Levertov’s poem, To the Snake. Her poem follows below.
The Snake’s Keening
Bright Girl, when you plucked me from
the grass and round your neck I hung
felt your seering warmth
and whispered in your ear the secrets
of a serpent’s curse
the weight of sin and shame I bare
wounded in your ears —
Bright Girl — I swore to my scaled children that certainly
you were sinless! But truly
I had no hope of ever passing your heel, only desire
and be held by you, for that thrill,
of guilt, as the grass closed
behind me, and you with that dark
assurance in your eyes,
I shall never share.
© Jilly’s All Rights Reserved
To the Snake
by Denise Levertov
Green Snake, when I hung you round my neck
and stroked your cold, pulsing throat
as you hissed to me, glinting
arrowy gold scales, and I felt
the weight of you on my shoulders,
and the whispering silver of your dryness
sounded close at my ears —
Green Snake–I swore to my companions that certainly
you were harmless! But truly
I had no certainty, and no hope, only desiring
to hold you, for that joy,
a long wake of pleasure, as the leaves moved
and you faded into the pattern
of grass and shadows, and I returned
smiling and haunted, to a dark morning.
To the Snake, by Denise Levertov
Poetry Foundation, October 1958