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Chapter Heading -- Ernest Hemingway

Happy new year!
(Poem #976) Chapter Heading
 For we have thought the longer thoughts
     And gone the shorter way.
 And we have danced to devil's tunes
     Shivering home to pray;
 To serve one master in the night,
     Another in the day.
-- Ernest Hemingway
Note: The allusion is to Longfellow's "My Lost Youth":

   A boy's will is the wind's will,
   And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
     -- http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/rp/poems/heminw6.html

Today's poem exemplifies admirably Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's statement that
"Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but rather
when there is nothing more to take away." 'Chapter Heading' is a startlingly
powerful look at the eternal conflict between the spirit and the flesh, and
man's complex relationship with God.

Part of the poem's power lies, I think, in its very sparseness - a line like
"shivering home to pray" says more in four words than many a more extended
passage might have done, and does so with far greater an impact.
Furthermore, the imagery is visceral rather than 'rational', using words like
"danced" and "shivering" to emphasise sensation over thought, evoking the
ancient fear of darkness with its reference to night and day - and,
thereby, limning the tangled framework of primitive emotions that underlies
and motivates the most rational of religions.

Links:

  A biography of Hemingway:
    http://www.nobel.se/literature/laureates/1954/hemingway-bio.html

  The Hemingway Foundation:
    http://www.hemingway.org/

-martin

55 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Kevin3x said...

I like his works, they are very intresting and they are fun to read.

LA&Parker said...

I believe there is a typo in the third line; it should read - devils' -
plural possessive, instead of "devil's." This suggestion is from reading
"Ernest Hemingway, Complete Poems" revised edition, edited by Nicholas
Georgiannis, page thirty-four.

Take Care,

Parker

Carpet Cleaning Reno said...

Hemingway's mother frequently performed in concerts around the village.

Birmingham Al Chiropractor said...

This suggestion is from reading
"Ernest Hemingway, Complete Poems" revised edition, edited by Nicholas
Georgiannis, page thirty-four.

Mark Elhum said...

"For we have thought the longer thoughts
And gone the shorter way."
what these lines have in them that cant be explained by any two the similar way, the lines have ever deep meanings and explanations of what we keep thinking doesnt happen and what happens we dont know either... very touching lines by Ernest Hemingway..
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kdee said...

martin-thank you for this website. Are you still here in 2013?

I wonder if Heminway was not so much evoking our fear of darkness as referring to the different self when out at night dancing and drinking (he was quite the drinker)versus his persona during the day when he was adhereing to social mores?

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