Happy new year!
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