Ode on a Jar of Pickles.

Bayard Taylor.

A sweet, acidulous, down-reaching thrill
 Pervades my sense: I seem to see or hear
The lushy garden-grounds of Greenwich Hill
 In autumn, when the crispy leaves are sere:
And odours haunt me of remotest spice
 From the Levant or musky-aired Cathay,
Or from the saffron-fields of Jericho,
 Where everything is nice:
 The more I sniff, the more I swoon away,
And what else mortal palate craves, forgo.
Odours unsmelled are keen, but those I smell
 Are keener; wherefore let me sniff again!
Enticing walnuts, I have known ye well
 In youth, when pickles were a passing pain;
Unwitting youth, that craves the candy stem,
 And sugar-plums to olives doth prefer,
And even licks the pots of marmalade
 When sweetness clings to them:
 But now I dream of ambergris and myrrh,
Tasting these walnuts in the poplar shade.
Lo! hoarded coolness in the heart of noon,
 Plucked with its dew, the cucumber is here,
As to the Dryad’s parching lips a boon,
 And crescent bean-pods, unto Bacchus dear;
And, last of all, the pepper’s pungent globe,
 The scarlet dwelling of the sylph of fire,
Provoking purple draughts; and, surfeited,
 I cast my trailing robe
 O’er my pale feet, touch up my tuneless lyre,
And twist the Delphic wreath to suit my head.
Here shall my tongue in other wise be soured
 Than fretful men’s in parched and palsied days;
And, by the mid-May’s dusky leaves embowered,
 Forget the fruitful blame, the scanty praise.
No sweets to them who sweet themselves were born,
 Whose natures ooze with lucent saccharine;
Who, with sad repetition soothly cloyed,
 The lemon-tinted morn
 Enjoy, and find acetic twilight fine:
Wake I, or sleep? The pickle-jar is void.