Read On Reading Omar Khayyam of General William Booth enters into Heaven and other Poems, free online book, by Vachel Lindsay, on

  [During an anti-saloon campaign, in central Illinois.]

  In the midst of the battle I turned,
  (For the thunders could flourish without me)
  And hid by a rose-hung wall,
  Forgetting the murder about me;
  And wrote, from my wound, on the stone,
  In mirth, half prayer, half play:
  “Send me a picture book,
  Send me a song, to-day.”

  I saw him there by the wall
  When I scarce had written the line,
  In the enemy’s colors dressed
  And the serpent-standard of wine
  Writhing its withered length
  From his ghostly hands o’er the ground,
  And there by his shadowy breast
  The glorious poem I found.

  This was his world-old cry: 
  Thus read the famous prayer: 
  “Wine, wine, wine and flowers
  And cup-bearers always fair!”
  ’Twas a book of the snares of earth
  Bordered in gold and blue,
  And I read each line to the wind
  And read to the roses too: 
  And they nodded their womanly heads
  And told to the wall just why
  For wine of the earth men bleed,
  Kingdoms and empires die. 
  I envied the grape stained sage: 
  (The roses were praising him.)
  The ways of the world seemed good
  And the glory of heaven dim. 
  I envied the endless kings
  Who found great pearls in the mire,
  Who bought with the nation’s life
  The cup of delicious fire.

  But the wine of God came down,
  And I drank it out of the air. 
  (Fair is the serpent-cup,
  But the cup of God more fair.)
  The wine of God came down
  That makes no drinker to weep. 
  And I went back to battle again
  Leaving the singer asleep.