Sunday, 17 July 2011

To Anacreon in Heaven

A drinking song, written circa 1771.

To Anacreon in heaven where he sat in full glee,
A few sons of harmony sent a petition,
That he their inspirer and patron would be,
When this answer arrived from the jolly old Grecian:
Voice, fiddle aud flute, no longer be mute,
I'll lend you my name and inspire you to boot!
And besides I'll instruct you like me to entwine
The myrtle of Venus and Bacchus's vine.

The news through Olympus immediately flew,
When old Thunder pretended to give himself airs,
If these mortals are suffered their scheme to pursue,
The devil a goddess will stay above stairs,
Hark! already they cry, in transports of joy,
A fig for Parnassus, to Rowley’s we'll fly,
And there my good fellows, we'll learn to entwine
The myrtle of Venus and Bacchus's vine.

The yellow-haired god, and his nine fusty maids,
To the hill of old Lud will incontinent flee,
Idalia will boast but of tenantless shades,
And the biforked hill a mere desert will be,
My thunder, no fear on’t, will soon do its errand,
And, damn me I'll swinge the ringleaders, I warrant
I'll trim the young dogs, for thus daring to twine
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine.

Apollo rose up and said, “Prythee ne'er quarrel,
Good king of the gods, with my votaries below
Your thunder is useless - then showing his laurel,
Cried, Sic evitabile fulmen, you know!
Then over each head my laurels I'll spread,
So my sons from your crackers no mischief shall dread
Whilst snug in their club-room, they jovially twine
The myrtle of Venus and Bacchus's vine.

Some forty years later, the tune was used for an obscure political song of some kind.

1 comment:

Desert Dawn said...

Thanks for the tune info. I had never been curious about the origins of the Banner. I just assumed it was an incredibly lame tune with no history at all. Following the links, I know now why the tune was accepted by the guys in charge at the time. Sort of lasting bad joke.