Updated: Jul 26
"The myth stands as it will
yet the ideal is what is sought
Firmness, determination - ideals of the young man in a different time
Character, wit, strength - framed in the comfort of dark wood accents, (cigar or) cigarette smoke and a tumbler of scotch -
the appeal assuredly drives.
The reality stands with the myth - hand in hand but only as a thin veneer.
But, in that sliver something substantial
For a moment only, we grumble
God damn it and fuck it
- it stands greater than both"
- July 2021
Reading through a snippet of Hemingway's poetry tonight, mulling over a drink I cannot have, or a cigarette I've been craving for weeks - I enjoy that, although starts with looseness, it finds itself again in the last couplet.
Hemingway was not flowery - at least not to me. He is not a Henry James or a Thomas Mann. He is like the nails of a Shakespearean Opus - boil that shit down until only the "truth" (as he calls it) remains.
So it's no surprise the poems I read through tonight were to the point...somewhat an efficiency of words, but getting a point across. They aim at a truth.
Hemingway encapsulated, I'm sure erroneously, the memories of my father. He admired Hemingway very much - but also tried to dispel that notion. But it was obvious when I remember as far back as I could - seeing my dad voraciously read dime store crap, spy novels, ham-fisted crime dramas. But he had Hemingway on the shelf, which he rarely did. (This and Walt Whitman were always prominently displayed.)
I took many a visit to the used book store with my father and I learned wheat from chaff. This carries with me today. What's gold can be measured as such - writing lasts tests of time, affection and review. Here we are with Hemingway.
This song called to me, being contemporous with Hemingway in decline. It's titular and thematic bent speaks from a 1925 novel Sorrow in Sunlight.
Reviewing the age of Hemingway and post-World War II, Cold War era - I discovered a reference to an underground hit of 1936 with Stuff Smith's "If You're a Viper". This song, and again, look at the year, directly called out marijuana use in the Negro jazz community of the time. It's a quaint look of growing sub-culture of the late 30s.
(There's no correlation with Hemingway and pot, but I often wonder if the drugs sub-culture pulled on many an artist at the time.)