The Cup That Cheers!

‘The cups that cheer but not inebriate’ would be one of the best lines extolling the virtues of TEA. During my college days I was never a great fan of William Cowper, even though later in life I have often borrowed his phrase many a time to caption my photos of steaming cups of tea. Some of our tastes and views change as we grow old and I have been reading Cowper, who was known as the forerunner of Romantic Poetry. Considered as one of those pioneers who started writing about simple everyday life of the English countryside, Cowper’s poems would have been a breath of fresh air after the reign of metaphysical and cavalier poems.

On a cold February morning, I met this stout, confident, nonchalant woman in a flower and vegetable market in Jaipur, Rajasthan sipping her cup of tea after unloading a heavy sack of vegetables from her head. Though at first she looked a little intimidating , she gave a broad smile after enjoying her tea and started conversing with us.

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The cup…

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…that cheers!

Here are those famous lines from Cowper’s The Task Book IV, written in Blank Verse. Lines that bring warmth and a smile! It is said that the phrase The cup that cheers but not inebriates was much quoted during the 19th century Temperance Movement against the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

“Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,

Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,

And while the bubbling and loud hissing urn

Throw up a steamy column and the cups

That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each

So let us welcome peaceful ev’ning in”

~William Cowper~

5 thoughts on “The Cup That Cheers!

  1. I like your description of the woman as “stout, confident, [and] nonchalant.” I’d say that’s a perfect description; I especially like her sharp, direct gaze in the first photo. That’s the confidence, I suppose. The nonchalance surely is that beautifully patterned floral cloth draped across her practical winter clothes. Is there a name for that? I was going to call it a shawl, but that’s not right. It’s lovely, whatever its name.

    As for tea: I’ve never really developed a taste for it, but of course I was raised in a Swedish family were coffee was consumed more regularly. I’m not sure when I first drank tea, but I surely was in college. It’s amazing, how these habits and preferences are shaped so early!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Linda for your good words. She is wearing a saree, Indian traditional attire. Saree is an unstitched cloth of 5 to 6 meters, that we wrap around our waist and drape over our shoulder with a matching blouse. This woman is wearing a denim jacket over her saree to protect her from the cold weather.
      I can’t think of a day without my cup of tea! Such are habits! I prefer tea with milk and sugar (English breakfast tea). And Indian masala tea too is a favourite of mine. I was not aware of your Swedish background! Every time you get to know a little more about a person. Good day and stay well!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I thought about a sari (as I’ve always seen it spelled), but the jacket fooled me. We have a large Indian population here, and it’s not unusual to see a woman wearing a sari, especially in other parts of Houston.

        I think masala tea must be spiced tea. A friend who spent time in India taught me about garam masala, and how to use it in curries — it’s very good!

        Like

  2. There’s so much to love about this post! The cheerful poem, your story about the woman transforming from intimidating to friendly, and of course your wonderful photos of her. How often does someone stop to take an interest in her life and really see her? She understood that you weren’t just looking at her as a “type” and that’s why she relaxed and smiled for you. A heartwarming encounter!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for all the warm and kind words! I thoroughly enjoy the stories you tell us through those precious photographs and write ups. Keep them coming! Best wishes!

      Liked by 1 person

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