There’s a lot to say about April. It starts off with a Fools’ Day. Its showers bring May flowers, some prefer to spend it in Paris, 16th-century English composer Thomas Morley saw it in his mistress’ face. And poet T.S. Eliot famously called it the cruelest month. Which brings us to wine and poetry, because April is also National Poetry Month.

Happily, poets through the centuries have supplied us with plenty of wine-soaked words. Robert Louis Stevenson called wine “bottled poetry”; Rumi, the Persian poet, said “Either give me more wine or leave me alone.” Baudelaire spoke to the wino in us all when he advised, “One should always be drunk. That’s all that matters…But with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you chose. But get drunk.”

Wine, poetry and love comprise a triangle. In “As You Like It,” Shakespeare warned, “I pray you, do not fall in love with me, for I am falser than vows made in wine,” and E.E. cummings wrote “his lips drink water but his heart drinks wine.”

You can find poems referencing wine on your own at the Poetry Foundation (and sign up for a poem-a-day newsletter). They range from classic and wistful to downright bawdy. Here are a few to enjoy for the rest of this poetic month and beyond: 

The Soul Of Wine, 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 | Drink: A simple French bistro wine, Beaujolais

I bring an unaccustomed wine, Emily Dickinson

I bring an unaccustomed wine

To lips long parching, next to mine,

And summon them to drink.

Read more here | Drink: Concord grape juice.

A Drinking Song, W.B. Yeats

Wine comes in at the mouth

And love comes in at the eye;

That’s all we shall know for truth

Before we grow old and die.

I lift the glass to my mouth,

I look at you, and I sigh.

Drink: English sparkling wine

Ode to Wine, Pablo Neruda

Day-colored wine,

night-colored wine,

wine with purple feet

or wine with topaz blood,


starry child

of earth,

wine, smooth

as a golden sword,


as lascivious velvet,

wine, spiral-seashelled

and full of wonder,



never has one goblet contained you,

one song, one man,

you are choral, gregarious,

at the least, you must be shared.

Read more here | Drink: Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon

Sad Wine (II), Cesare Pavese

The hard thing’s to sit without being noticed.

Everything else will come easy. Three sips

and the impulse returns to sit thinking alone.

Against the buzzing backdrop of noise

everything fades, and it’s suddenly a miracle

to be born and to stare at the glass. 

Read more here | Drink: Nebbiolo from Piedmont

Intoxicated under the shadow of flowers, Li Qingzhao

Light mists and heavy clouds,

melancholy the long dreay day,

In the golden cencer

the burning incense is dying away.

It is again time

for the lovely Double-Nith Festival;

The coolness of midnight

penetrates my screen of sheer silk

and chills my pillow of jade.

After drinking wine at twilight

under the chrysanthemum hedge,

My sleeves are perfumed

by the faint fragrance of the plants.

Oh, I cannot say it is not enchanting,

Only, when the west wind stirs the curtin,

I see that I am more gracile

than the yellow flowers.

Drink: Cabernet Sauvignon from Ningxia

Sicilian Wine, Bayard Taylor

I’ve drunk Sicilia’s crimson wine!

The blazing vintage pressed

From grapes on Etna’s breast,

What time the mellowing autumn sun

did shine:

I’ve drunk the wine!

I feel its blood divine

Poured on the sluggish tide of mine,

Till, kindling slow,

Its fountains glow

With the light that swims

On their trembling brims,

And a molten sunrise floods my limbs!

Read more here | Drink: Frappato from Sicily’s Vittoria region

The Rubaiyat, Omar Khayyam

And David’s lips are locket; but in divine

High-piping Pehlevi, with “Wine! Wine! Wine!

Red Wine!” the Nightingale cries to the Rose

That sallow cheek of hers t’ incarnadine.

Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring

Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:

The Bird of Time has but a little way

To flutter–and the Bird is on the Wing.

Whether at Naishapur or Babylon,

Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run,

The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop,

The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.

Read more here | Drink: Shiraz, said to originate in Persia

But in the Wine-presses the Human Grapes Sing not nor Dance, William Blake

But in the Wine-presses the human grapes sing not nor dance:

They howl and writhe in shoals of torment, in fierce flames consuming,

In chains of iron and in dungeons circled with ceaseless fires,

In pits and dens and shades of death, in shapes of torment and woe:

The plates and screws and racks and saws and cords and fires and cisterns

The cruel joys of Luvah’s Daughters, lacerating with knives

And whips their victims, and the deadly sport of Luvah’s Sons.

Read more here | Drink: Port

Wine, Pierre Martory

I love the sweet harshness on the tongue

Filling the palate with a promised saliva

Knocking the mute keyboard of the teeth

With raised draperies of which one might say

That memory retains a fleeting trail of them

Half-glimpsed we won’t know how or else

The loud reminder of the single moment

All gravity banished the unconscious pleasure recaptured

Of being nothing but entirely animal.   

Drink: Merlot, Syrah or Cinsault from Morocco

Photos, L-R and clockwise: Charles Baudelaire, W.B. Yeats, Bayard Taylor, Pablo Neruda, Pierre Martory, William Blake, Li Qingzhao, Cesare Pavese, Omar Khayyam