QotD: Favorite Poem - Absinthia Taetra


What is one of your favorite poems?
Submitted by marvel is my pen name.

I'm crazy about absinthe.  Love everything about it, from the taste to the lurid history.  Ernest Dowson was one of the more famous (or would that be infamous?) writers of the Decadent Movement, along with other fellow absinthe drinkers like Oscar Wilde, Arthur Rimbaud, and Paul Verlaine, all of whom would live fast, die young and leave a good corpse.  He didn't actually produce much poetry in his short life, but this particular prose poem is a nice hymn to absinthe:

Absinthia Taetra

Green changed to white, emerald to opal; nothing was changed.

The man let the water trickle gently into his glass, and as the
  green clouded, a mist fell from his mind.

Then he drank opaline.

Memories and terrors beset him. The past tore after him like a
  panther and through the blackness of the present he saw the
  luminous tiger eyes of the things to be.

But he drank opaline.

And that obscure night of the soul, and the valley of humiliation,
  through which he stumbled, were forgotten. He saw blue vistas
  of undiscovered countries, high prospects and a quiet, caressing
  sea. The past shed its perfume over him, to-day held his hand
  as if it were a little child, and tomorrow shone like a white
  star: nothing was changed.

He drank opaline.

The man had known the obscure night of the soul, and lay even
  now in the valley of humiliation; and the tiger menace of the
  things to be was red in the skies. But for a little while he
  had forgotten.

Green changed to white, emerald to opal; nothing was changed.


Oh. Wow. I like that!I've only had absinthe once; I drank too much for my low-tolerance system and it mostly just made me feel sick.I really want to try it again though. Ever try it mixed with champagne? I guess that was the way Hemingway drank it.And maybe that was why it made me sick... but MAN was that good!

You have to be careful with absinthe. Bad absinthe is Real Bad. They figure if they slap a name sort of like absinthe on it and color it green, it's good to go.  But good absinthe is Real Good.And yes, Papa drank it with champagne, a mixture also called Death in the Afternoon!

THAT'S right. I couldn't think of the name of the drink!We ordered our absinthe from what seemed to be a reputable site, and whatever we ordered, a friend had had it before. I was the only one who felt sick... but then, combine my being female with my being a lightweight... and it's no wonder it got to me.I really with the FDA would approve it here in the US - that's really the only limitation, as far as I know.

I should proofread comments a bit more before I send them! That last line was intended to read "I really wish." Oops. Color my "former English major" face red!

There are some reasonable sites that sell some true Crap(tm).  A good first step is to make sure the bottle is labeled "Absinthe" and not some strange variation on the word (esp. Absente). I also almost never mix it, save with water & sugar.Yes, it would be nice if it were not a "controlled" substance, now that the myths of absinthe have been exploded.  But it won't happen any time soon, I don't think.

I just went looking... and the bottle we drank we La Fée Bohemian Absinth...  not sure if that rings any bells. Next time I'll do a bit more research, I think.Thanks for the tip on how to spot a true bottle! :)

Oh, that's too bad - you have my utmost sympathy.  That's Czech "crapsinth", where they know nothing about it, not even how to spell it. I actually have a bottle of Le Fee Absinthe, which is a somewhat more normal absinthe, although made via a process frown upon by real absinthe connoisseurs. I found it to be just too much - too green, too strong and too anise-y.I just today received 3 bottles I ordered myself for my birthday - Montmarte, Ptite and Eichelberger (perhaps the only non-Swiss or French absinthe that anyone can stand). Check out our absinthe blog for more info (I've started to post there again): http://www.inabsinthia.comFor good absinthe talk, read the Wormwood Society forums: http://www.wormwoodsociety.com

Thanks for the links. :)

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on February 17, 2007 12:12 PM.

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