War and Wine by Jean Le Houx

I am as brave as Caesar in this war
Armed to the very teeth with jug and glass;
Better a charge of wine that leaves no scar
Than bullets spilling life that soon must pass.

Give me the bottles for the battle’s clash,
Barrels and casks of rich vermilion wine
For my artillery with which to smash
This thirst that I invest and undermine.

As far as I can see the man’s a clown
Who would not rather get his broken head
By drinking than by fighting for renown;
What use will his renown be when he’s dead?

The head brought down by drinking can recover;
When the wind buffets if you feel some pain,
Then after a short sleep the trouble’s over;
On battlefields all remedy is vain.

Better to hide your nose in a tall glass
Than in a casque-of-war, more safe, I think,
Than following horn and ensign, just to pass
Beneath the yew and ivy to a drink.

Better beside the fire drinking muscatel,
Here inside the tavern and never in default,
Than outside on the ramparts playing sentinel
Or following a captain to the breach, to the assault!

But I dislike and do not seek excess.
Good drinker, not born drunkard, is my due.
Good wine, that makes for laughter and friendliness,
I’ve promised more than I can keep to you.

From: Currey, R.N., Collected Poems, 2001, David Philip & James Currey: Oxford & Cape Town, pp. 222-223.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=vkivkL-OohwC)

Date: 1610 (original in French); 1938 (translation in English)

By: Jean Le Houx (1551-1616)

Translated by: Ralph Nixon Currey (1907-2001)

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