"A Large Cold Bottle, And A Small Hot Bird!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In the poem "The Bottle and the Bird" the poet relates a small incident to show man's readiness to divert attention away from the true cause of his ills if that true cause gives pleasure that man does not wish to relinquish. The poet says that after "a sinful ballet show," he and a friend went to a restaurant where the friend ordered for them a large bottle of wine and a small hot bird. The misery that the poet suffered the next day caused him to consult his doctor, but the doctor could not believe that a small hot bird would give such terrible stomach disorders. Instead, the doctor suggested that the cause might have been the bottle of wine. The poet says that that was impossible, as wine is the substance that makes "the ills of life decline!" The first stanza of the poem is as follows:

Once on a time a friend of mine prevailed on me to go
To see the dazzling splendors of a sinful ballet show;
And after we had revelled in the saltatory sights,
We sought a neighboring café for more tangible delights.
When I demanded of my friend what viands he preferred,
He quoth: "A large cold bottle, and a small hot bird!"