William Cosmo Monkhouse & Paul Valery

I am not altogether certain everyone out there is noting this, but for those of you who are, I share with you in acknowledging July 20th as the anniversary of when William Cosmo Monkhouse left our world for whatever lies beyond.

A London-born poet, novelist, critic, and all-around thinker, he was born in March of 1840, and passed on in 1901.

For our purposes here, I’ll note him as a favorite poet for, among other things, his handling of wine as it appears in multiplicities of the Christ stories. A particular appealing rendition thereof is his poem The Christ Upon The Hill, from which the following is taken:

I am the King of Glory;
I am your brother too;
And even as you do to Me,
So do I unto you.

You took Me in and clothed Me;
You washed My body pierced;
You gave me of your wine to drink
When I was sore athirst.

And you have suffered also,
And you must suffer still;
I suffered upon Calvary;
I suffer on the Hill.

I love this for the way in which wine is cast as a great and easing gift to the suffering martyr; proof again that in giving wine, one is giving peace and affection.


Coincidence or not, the fates had it that French poet, essayist, and all-around thinker Paul Valéry would also leave this world on the 20th of July, and while his attitudes about wine are a tad unusual, I appreciate very much his recognition of its rather wonderful qualities, even as he deploys its eminently laudable traits as a leaping off point into another reverie on a different sort of potable; from Valéry’s “In Praise of Water”:

So many have sung the praise of WINE. Countless drunken poets have reached up to lyrical heights and held out to the gods the goblet of strong WINE their souls awaited.

WINE is most precious and deserves those praises. But how ungrateful and mistaken were those who cursed water …

Well, I don’t know about that last bit, with the cursing water and whatnot (those of us in the wine biz are rather obsessive about hydration!), but Valéry sure had me at singing the praises of wine!

Categories: Viticultural Salmagundi, Wine & Poetry, Wine Tales

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