“The Dish of Tea”

Freneau, Philip Morin, 1752-1832 : THE DISH OF TEA.

Let some in beer place their delight,
O’er bottled porter waste the night,
Or sip the rosy wine:
A dish of TEA more pleases me,
Yields softer joys, provokes less noise,
And breeds no base design.

From China’s groves, this present brought,
Enlivens every power of thought,
Riggs many a ship for sea:
Old maids it warms, young widows charms;
And ladies’ men, not one in ten
But courts them for their TEA.

When throbbing pains assail my head,
And dullness o’er my brain is spread,
(The muse no longer kind)
A single sip dispels the hyp:
To chace the gloom, fresh spirits come,
The flood-tide of the mind.

When worn with toil, or vext with care,
Let Susan but this draught prepare,
And I forget my pain.
This magic bowl revives the soul;
With gentlest sway, bids care be gay;
Nor mounts, to cloud the brain.—

If learned men the truth would speak
They prize it far beyond their GREEK,
More fond attention pay;
No HEBREW root so well can suit;
More quickly taught, less dearly bought,
Yet studied twice a day.

This leaf, from distant regions sprung,
Puts life into the female tongue,
And aids the cause of love.
Such power has TEA o’er bond and free;
Which priests admire, delights the ‘squire ,
And Galen’s sons approve.
1792

***************
The virtues of 18th century poetry are many. Many poets of the time period allowed no detail to escape them and Freneau’s overview of his love of tea is an exquisite afternoon entertainment for me. The power of tea has not, I hope, been diminished by the hegemony of Starbucks.  I need a strong mug of Lapsang Souchong tea every morning.  The smoky aroma is invigorating–not that I am vigorous at any time, but a taste of Lapsang will open my eyes.

Author: Gubbinal

Bookish, tea-drinking cat-lady who loves great poetry

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