Missouri State University - Mountain Grove

Ode to Catawba Wine

Ode to Catawba Wine

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(Written In Praise of Nicholas Longworth's Catawba Wine made on the banks of the Ohio River)

This song of mine
Is a song of the Vine
To be sung by the glowing embers
Of wayside inns,
When the rain begins
To darken the drear Novembers.

It is not a song
Of the Scuppernong,
From warm Carolinian valleys,
Nor the Isabel
And the Muscadel
That bask in our garden alleys.

Nor the red Mustang,
Whose clusters hang
O’er the waves of the Colorado,
And the fiery flood
Of whose purple blood
Has a dash of Spanish bravado.

For the richest and best
Is the wine of the West,
That grows by the Beautiful River,
Whose sweet perfume
Fills all the room
With a benison on the giver.

And as hollow trees
Are the haunts of bees,
Forever going and coming;
So this crystal hive
Is all alive
With a swarming and buzzing
and humming.

Very good in its way
Is the Verzenay,
Or the Sillery soft and creamy;
But Catawba wine
has a taste more divine,
More dulcet, delicious and dreamy.

There grows no vine
By the haunted Rhine,
By Danube or Quadalquivir,
Nor on island or cape,
That bears such a grape
As grows by the Beautiful River.

Drugged is their juice
For foreign use,
When shipped o’er
the reeling Atlantic,
To rack our brains
With the fever pains,
That have driven the
Old World Frantic.

To the sewers and sinks
With all such drinks,
And after them tumble the mixer,
For a poison malign
Is such Borgia wine,
Or at best but a Devil’s elixir.

While pure as a spring
Is the wine I sing,
And to praise it,
one needs but name it;
For Catawba wine
Has need of no sign,
No tavern-bush to proclaim it.

And this Song of the Vine,
This greeting of mine,
The winds and the birds shall deliver
To the Queen of the West,
In her garlands dressed,
On the banks of the Beautiful River.