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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 10:08 pm 
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Location: George Town Tasmania Australia
I am now 61 and just about the exact age to the month that Hemingway shot himself. This prose-poem is a reflection on my own life through the sifting mechanism of Hemingway. :mrgreen:
______________________________
THANKING HEMINGWAY

Ernest Hemingway won a Pulitzer Prize in Literature in 1953 and a Nobel Prize at the age of 54 in 1954. His life from 1953 to his death in 1961 gave me cause for reflecting on my own life through the sifting mechanism of this famous writer's life. My mother had just come into contact with the Baha’i Faith the year The Old Man and the Sea was published. At the age of 62, in the twilight of his fame, after hospitalization for depression and alcoholism, Hemingway shot himself to death at his home in Idaho. Although bi-polar disorder with its attendant suicide wish was present in my family, suicide never clouded our experience.

Hemingway’s suicide seemed to call his existing body of writing into question and prompted people to cast a cold eye on the story he wrote of his own life. His autobiographical accounts came to be seen as exaggerated, distorted or false. His stories often came to be seen as falsifying something about life, about men, about women and war. I like to think that my own autobiography was neither false nor exaggerated. The rapid decline of the reputation of major literary figures after their death is not uncommon. Hemingway was a writer trapped by his own charm and energy, by literary adulation, by alcoholism and by the very conspicuous nature of his celebrity status, in a lifestyle, in a modus operandi, a modus vivendi, than he could not manage, could not cope with or deal with in a practical way. He was quite literally a victim of his own literary success and the fascination his personality had in the public domain. I had none of this problem of conspicuous celebrity. I languished in a comfortable obscurity; I had no problems associated with conspicuous celebrity.

Alcoholism and depression often have complex etiologies going right back to childhood. These illnesses exacted on Hemingway a high price. The price was his life and the decline of his work both in the years after 1953 and after his death in 1962. -Ron Price with thanks to “Reviews of Biographies of Ernest Hemingway,” The Archives of The New York Times,

We all get trapped, Ernest,
in a lifestyle partly of our
own choosing, the demands
of our insistent-selves and
partly a result of a set of
preconditions over which
we seem to have no control.

I was just starting out
catering to the demands
of my insistent self back
in the summer of '61 when
your story ended with
a bullet in your head.

Alcohol was never a test,
no battle for me there;
depression was, mostly
sorted out over 40 years1
so that, by the time I was 61,
only a little fatigue embattled
my spirit and saddened my brow:
no need to end it all--for me only
a slow fall holding life's small ball.

But will, that active force which
controls so many incidents and
apparent accidents and lies at
the core of what we call fate,
had to deal with a different
complex, made me a victim
of a different set of life-tests.

Ernest, we all have tests
and we pay the price for
our failures and our wins.
I have but one crusade now,
Ernest, an old one against
that same insistent--self
and the promptings of my
heart which lead me, compel
me, to drink from a cup of
pure and limpid water with
an attendant existential exhaustion,
an addict’s regret and remorse
as I face defeat in the eye,
knowing when I am beaten,
betrayed by my own self
and the play of feeling and
reflection unable to shun the:
“heaven that leads men to that hell,”2
but still I distill some threads of gold,
silver and amethyst and a diamond core
and a fragrance of musk as I pour
out my song in praise of my glorious Lord.

1 From the age of 18 to 58.
2 Shakespeare, "Sonnet #129," Sonnets.

Ron Price
March 28th 2006

_________________
married for 42 years; teacher for 35 years; Canadian living in Australia for 38 years; Baha'i for 50 years.


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