“To Anacreon in Heaven” or a Star-Spangled Hangover

Does this tune sounds familiar? (video is a little lewd but mostly SWF)

 

“To Anacreon in Heaven” was the official song of the Anacreontic Society, a gentlemanly club of amateur musicians in 18th-century London.

Anacreon, a Greek lyric poet of the 6th century BCE whom Peisistratus brought to Athens with great fanfare, was famous for his poems on love and intoxication. His poetry spawned a slew of imitators in antiquity, who wrote in the voice of Anacreon or claimed they were inspired by his example. After they were rediscovered and published in 1554, these poem, or Anacreontea, inspired numerous imitators from the 16th through 19th century. And among these homages is “To Anacreon in Heaven.”

Here are the saucy lyrics:

To Anacreon in Heav’n, where he sat in full glee,
A few Sons of Harmony sent a petition;
That he their Inspirer and Patron wou’d be;
When this answer arrived from the Jolly Old Grecian;
“Voice, Fiddle, and 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 intwine,
The Myrtle of Venus with 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,
Away to the Sons of Anacreon we’ll fly.
And besides I’ll instruct you like me, to intwine,
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s Vine.”

“The Yellow-Haired God and his nine lusty Maids,
From Helion’s banks will incontinent flee,
Idalia will boast but of tenantless Shades,
And the bi-forked hill a mere desert will be.
My Thunder no fear on’t,
Shall soon do it’s errand,
And damme I’ll swing 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, “Pry’thee ne’er quarrel,
Good sing of the Gods with my Vot’ries below:
Your Thunder is useless”–then showing his laurel,
Cry’d “Sic evitable fulmen’ you know!
Then over each head
My laurels I’ll spread
So my sons from your Crackers no mischief shall dread,
While snug in their clubroom, they jovially twine,
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s Vine.”

Next Momus got up with his risible Phiz
And swore with Apollo he’d cheerfully join-
“The full tide of Harmony still shall be his,
But the Song, and the Catch, and the Laugh, shall be mine.
Then Jove be not jealous
Of these honest fellows,”
Cry’d Jove, “We relent since the truth you now tell us;
And swear by Old Styx, that they long shall intwine,
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s Vine.”

Ye Sons of Anacreon then join hand in hand;
Preserve Unanimity, Friendship, and Love!
‘Tis yours to support what’s so happily plann’d;
You’ve the sanction of Gods, and the Fiat of Jove.
While thus we agree,
Our toast let it be:
“May our Club flourish Happy, United, and Free!
And long may the Sons of Anacreon intwine,
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s Vine.”

Lyrics: Ralph Tomlinson
Music: John Stafford Smith

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