April 7, 1933 – National Beer Day: the sale of beer becomes legal again in the U.S. as the Cullen-Harrison Act goes into effect, redefining an “intoxicating beverage” to exclude beer from Prohibition – but the full repeal of Prohibition wasn’t until December 5, 1933, when ratification of the 21 Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment. The disastrous attempt to ban alcohol was over.
“Lines on Ale” is a curious artifact of the 19th century. It was originally attributed to Edgar Allan Poe. The poem is believed to have been written in July, 1848, at a tavern in Lowell, Massachusetts. It was found in an obscure source in the 1930s by Thomas O. Mabbott, who included it in the volume he was publishing of Poe’s poetry. Poe did visit Lowell in either 1848 or 1849, but the anecdotal evidence that he is the poem’s author is fairly sparse. Several Poe experts have since rejected it, but the attribution persists.
Whether it was written by some unknown writer or by Edgar Allan Poe, the poem is a celebration of drinking ale. For you precisionists out there, ale is “a type of beer with a bitter flavor and higher alcoholic content.”
To read “Lines on Ale” click:
Lines on Ale
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.
Visual: 19th century ale bottle
I haven’t had much ale, but I have drunk deeply of Poe. He certainly could have written those lines, with their references to “hilarious visions” and “queerest fancies.” Regardless, a pint of ale and a volume of Poe would provide a pleasurable celebration of the day.
Hi Mike –
It’s one of those literary mysteries that may never be solved.
A volume of Poe and the libation of your choice will always be an excellent combination, whether he wrote this particular poem, or even whether he liked ale – or not.