10 Refreshing Poems About Drinking

Elisa Shoenberger


Elisa Shoenberger has been building a library since she was 13. She loves writing about all aspects of books from author interviews, antiquarian books, archives, and everything in between. She also writes regularly for Murder & Mayhem and Library Journal. She's also written articles for Huffington Post, Boston Globe, WIRED, Slate, and many other publications. When she's not writing about reading, she's reading and adventuring to find cool new art. She also plays alto saxophone and occasionally stiltwalks. Find out more on her website or follow her on Twitter @vogontroubadour.

It’s high summer. That means there is nothing quite like an overly warm day and a cold glass of white wine. In honor of the summer, I put together a list of ten poems about drinking. After all, John Keats once said, “Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know.”

The following are ten poems about drinking. Some poems are about wine, others focus on different liquors as well as poems about non-proof drinks like Coke and Kool Aid.

Bottom’s up!

Poems About Wine

Because nothing goes together quite like poetry and wine. After all, Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “Wine is bottled poetry.

The Soul of Wine by Charles Baudelaire

“One night, from bottles, sang the soul of wine:

‘0 misfit man, I send you for your good
Out of the glass and wax where I’m confined,
A melody of light and brotherhood!”

Read more here.

Ode to Wine by Pablo Neruda

“Day-colored wine,

night-colored wine,
wine with purple feet
or wine with topaz blood…”

Read more here.

Poems About Other Liquors

Drinking With a Gentleman of Leisure in the Mountains by Li Bai Translated by Arthur Cooper

We both have drunk their birth,
the mountain flowers,
A toast, a toast, a toast,
again another:

I am drunk, long to sleep;
Sir, go a little—
Bring your lute (if you like)
early tomorrow!

Read more here.

A Recipe for Whiskey by Ron Butlin

Wring the Scottish rain clouds dry;
Take sleet, the driving snow, the hail;
Winter twilight; the summer’s sun slowed down
to pearl-sheen dusk on hillsides, city-roofs,
on lochs at midnight.
And, most of all, take the years that have already run
to dust, the dust we spill behind us…

Read more here.

Lines on Ale by Edgar Allen Poe

“Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain —
Quaintest thoughts — queerest fancies
Come to life and fade away;
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today.”

Picking Up by Evelyn Duncan

“During the depression
my mother, teetotaler,
but thrifty to a fault,
surprised my father and me
when she cobbled up a still,
kept it on a shelf behind the kitchen stove,
and salvaged a crate of too-ripe pears
by making brandy, pouring it into Mason jars,
and storing them on the cellar stairs.”

Read more here.

Poems About Non-Proof Drinks

Because you can have fun drinking without alcohol.

Having a Coke With You Frank O’Hara

“is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian

Read more here.

Here’s a video of Frank O’Hara reading “Having a Coke With You”

Ode to Kool Aid by Marcus Jackson

“You turn the kitchen
tap’s metallic stream
into tropical drink,
extra sugar whirlpooling
to the pitcher-bottom
like gypsum sand.”

Read more here.

I taste a liquor never brewed by Emily Dickinson

I taste a liquor never brewed –
From Tankards scooped in Pearl –
Not all the Frankfort Berries
Yield such an Alcohol!

Inebriate of air – am I –
And Debauchee of Dew –
Reeling – thro’ endless summer days –
From inns of molten Blue –

When “Landlords” turn the drunken Bee
Out of the Foxglove’s door –
When Butterflies – renounce their “drams” –
I shall but drink the more!

Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats –
And Saints – to windows run –
To see the little Tippler
Leaning against the – Sun!

Vintage by Amy Lowell

“I will mix me a drink of stars,—
Large stars with polychrome needles,
Small stars jetting maroon and crimson,
Cool, quiet, green stars.
I will tear them out of the sky,
And squeeze them over an old silver cup,
And I will pour the cold scorn of my Beloved into it,
So that my drink shall be bubbled with ice.”

Read more here.

Still thirsty? Here’s a list of winter drinks and book pairings as well as 10 great books for booze-loving book nerds.