hymn to “lager”

by Diogenes

Image: beerhistory.com
Image: BeerHistory.com

To ancient rhymers, leave Parnassian dreams,
        Nor be by Helicon, a fruitless lagger;
No inspiration crave from fabled themes,
        But sing, oh muse, of Lager.

Old Jove his nectar would have spilled in scorn,
        And Mars have strutted with a statelier swagger;
Could they have swigged it from a foaming horn
        Of modern, mortal Lager.

Away with wine, tap of chivalric times,
        Whose ruby tide made every tongue a wagger;
Ring out ye bards, and troubadours, your rhymes
        In praise of nobler Lager.

Brandy, farewell, thou art not just the thing;
        One trimming nip of thee will make us stagger;
But we can sit and swill, and swig and sing,
        Thro’ mimic seas of Lager.

“Our first physicians,” too, “are free to say,”
        It cureth many an ill, and ache, and ager;
Oh bless Hygieia, bless the happy day
        That gave thee healing Lager.

My country, thou hast a great multitude
        (God grant that none of them may evil augur.)
Of fashions, born across the briny flood,
        Among them guzzling Lager.

To churlish Britain, and to worthless France,
        Thou owest many a scornful sneer, and swagger,
But higher claims Bavaria doth advance,
        Her precious gift was Lager.

Then Io pæan! Howl the triumph stave;
        Confusion to each sumptuary gagger,
Death to the craven who would man enslave,
        By shutting off his Lager.

What! in this glorious land of liberty,
        Among all lands of earth the fiercest bragger,
What mockery to call the people “free,”
        And yet prohibit Lager.

Rouse, all ye burly brewers every where,
        Fight for your sacred beer, each noble yager,
Rally around your vats, and grimly swear
        Death to the foes of Lager.

And you ye Yankees, whose most noble aim
        Is swilling half a cask without a stagger,
(Brave rivalry, ye apes of foreign shame,)
        Strike for your precious Lager.

Shall free born Europeans cringe to laws
        Which clash with appetite? Out dirk and dagger,
Strike home, brave hearts in this most holy cause,
        Strike to the death for Lager.

Newark’s beer brewing industry shaped the city, largely due to a once thriving German community. But interfering officials, competing ethnic groups and hostile temperance movements made certain that its place in civic life was never secure. Criminality and occasional violence fueled opposition: the stabbing death of Conrad Bauer, a German beer hall proprietor, was blamed on the existence of “this lager bier saloon and its attractions, this providing of music and dancing, the carrying on of a business which furnishes … such temptation to the young.”

The above anthem appeared a mere five months prior to Bauer’s killing, in the Newark Daily Advertiser of March 5, 1855.

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