(Sunday Times, December 14th 1924)
The world has sung of whisky since the days of Bobby Burns,
The juice of jocularity for which a Scotsman yearns,
And further back to Scripture days within the Book Divine,
Even the ancient wowsers drank exhilerating wine.
The poet Omar sang of it in Persia’s garden fair;
It flowed in pillaged Paris through the squalid steets and square.
But until we read the writings of our Stratford-on Avon seer,
We meet no panegyrics on ubiquitarian beer.
There’s the battle beer and the tattle beer of fat Falstaffian times;
The home-brewed beer, the foam-brewed beer, the beer of Shakespeare’s rhymes.
The beer in “As You Like It” and the beer in good “King John” –
The laughing, quaffing kind kind of beer King Charles was raised upon.
The beer drank before Harfluer when Henry V was King –
The quarts of Queen Elizabeth, when Raleigh had his fling.
The drugged beer Richard drank that brought annihillation near,
And the ghost of Hamlet’s father that was brought about by beer.
The hops of Kent and barley grown within the Saxon shires
Wove history in tapestry that all the world admires:
The butts of Battle Abbey where the troops victorious drank;
The beer of Bath and Bristol brewed at lovely Avonbank.
Then, coming down to modern times, the beer they brewed in Cork,
And the liquor from the Liffey where no Orangeman may talk.
Also the beer that makes you sing, tell stories and recite,
With beer that turns the clock around and changes day to night.
There’s the beer they sell in bottles and in barrels, pails and pots;
There’s beer that gargles throttles of the thirsty seers and sots;
There’s beer that makes you miss a tram, a motor car or ‘bus.
And beer that snarls a stranger off, or makes him one-of-us.
The tanglefoot they gave to troops when on their London leave –
The nauseous near-beer substitute no digger would believe;
There was Blighty beer and flighty beer and beer that made them flirt,
Spooning and honeymooning beer with pommy petlets pert.
We’ve also got some brands of beer out here in W.A. –
Beer that holds a groan a glass and beer that makes ‘em gay,
There’s beer that tangles up the toes and beer that blurs the brain ;
Beer that makes ‘em climb a cliff or decorate a drain.
There’s beer that makes ‘em talk about the girls they haven’t got ;
There’s beer that’s pugilistic, with a punch in every pot ;
There’s the fighting beer, the skiting beer, the beer that makes ‘em boast.
And beer that makes ‘em lean against the pub verandah post.
There’s cheery beer and weary beer and beer that makes you brave ;
There’s beer that saves a bathing belle from out the briny wave.
There’s the sorrowing and the borrowing beer whenever they quest a quid ;
And the beer that’s merely a beverage and the beer that’s just a tid.
There’s beer they drink and beer they think to drown a carking care,
And the beer they gulp in deep disgust when their girl has bobbed her hair :
But men may come and men may go, as Tennyson made it clear.
And perhaps his rhyme would have rippled more if his Brook had been made of beer!
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