September 21, 2010

In Their Cups Week: Charles Fenno Hoffmann, The Mint Julep

In Their Cups week continues here at Spiked Punch, with another poem from the raddest collection of drinking and drinkers poems I’ve ever been associated with up to date (if you missed it, it’s a week celebrating In Their Cups because of a certain reading this Sunday). For today’s pick, I’m going with a poem celebrating one of my favorite drinks, and the drink to have the first Saturday in May–the Mint Julep of course. This poem about the legendary birth of the Mint Julep is by Charles Fenno Hoffmann, who was a New York writer, editor, and critic in the 1800s. If you’ve ever had a truly well-made Mint Julep (on May 1st or any other day), you’ll understand why he’d write such a ringing and singing and immortalizing number about the drink (and if you haven’t had a Mint Julep that matches the below, maybe we need to get you a better recipe or point you to a different watering hole).


The Mint Julep



‘Tis said that the gods on Olympus of old 

  (And who the bright legend profanes with a doubt?) 

One night, ’mid their revels, by Bacchus were told 

  That his last butt of nectar had somehow run out! 


But determined to send round the goblet once more,

  They sued to the fairer immortals for aid 

In composing a draught which, till drinking were o’er, 

  Should cast every wine ever drank in the shade. 


Grave Ceres herself blithely yielded her corn, 

  And the spirit that lives in each amber-hued grain,

And which first had its birth from the dew of the morn, 

  Was taught to steal out in bright dewdrops again. 


Pomona, whose choicest of fruits on the board 

  Were scattered profusely in every one’s reach, 

When called on a tribute to cull from the hoard,

  Expressed the mild juice of the delicate peach. 


The liquids were mingled while Venus looked on 

  With glances so fraught with sweet magical power, 

That the honey of Hybla, e’en when they were gone, 

  Has never been missed in the draught from that hour


Flora, then, from her bosom of fragrancy, shook, 

  And with roseate fingers pressed down in the bowl, 

All dripping and fresh as it came from the brook, 

  The herb whose aroma should flavor the whole. 


The draught was delicious, and loud the acclaim,

  Though something seemed wanting for all to bewail, 

But Juleps the drink of immortals became, 

  When Jove himself added a handful of hail.


The Mint Julep, Charles Fenno Hoffmann

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