A couple of summers ago, I read and posted a blog about Ernest Hemingway’s, “A Moveable Feast” http://thedustbunnychronicles.com/2009/08/20/taties-treat/].  Though I enjoyed the book, and took great inspiration in his obvious devotion to the task writing and the relentless struggle to combine words in proper succession that results in a masterpiece, I was always struck by his lack of attention or devotion to his young wife Hadley.  Though they were newlyweds in the city of love (Paris), her character plays a minor role in the book.  I kept reading between the lines wondering if this poor woman, who bore Hemingway’s first child while in Paris, played an equally inconsequential role in his life.  While he ate and drank with the generation of literary expats in Paris who came to be known as the Lost Generation, I wondered what poor Hadley was doing?  This poor, lonely, similarly tortured soul probably spent her destitute days desperately eking out an existence for herself and her child.

I finished the book, and as life happens, forgot all about poor Hadley though I continued to try to draw from Hemingway’s encouragement in my writing… with considerably less success than he. 

I forgot about poor Hadley, that is, until recently.  I purchased Mary Chapin Carpenter’s album, The Age of Miracles, primarily for soft background music for yoga or my post run stretching routine.  The, last night after a run, I heard the song, Mrs. Hemingway, for the first time.  So it would seem that Ms Carpenter had also read the book and may have had similar speculation about Hadley as I.  Though the words are Ms. Carpenter’s, I wonder now how closely they reflect the life of Mrs. Hemingway. 

It’s a sad love song for sure, but after listening to it, I smiled.  How small the world is that I could share so unique a perspective with another human being so far removed from my own life about a person equally so far removed from both our lives.  The song echoed my thoughts about a book we’d each read and which had left the same lingering but remote impression on us both.

Mrs. Hemingway

We packed up our books and our dishes
Our dreams and your worsted wool suits
We sailed on the 8th of December.
Farewell old Hudson River
Here comes the sea
And love was as new and as bright and as true
When I loved you and you loved me.

Two steamer trunks in the carriage
Safe arrival we cabled back home
It was just a few days before Christmas
We filled our stockings with wishes
And walked for hours
Arm in arm through the rain, to the glassed-in café
It held us like hothouse flowers

Living in Paris, in attics and garrets
Where the coal merchants climb every stair
The dance hall next door is filled with sailors and whores
And the music floats up through the air
There’s Sancerre and oysters, cathedrals and cloisters
And time with it’s unerring aim
For now we can say we were lucky most days
And throw a rose into the Seine

Love is the greatest deceiver
It hollows you out like a drum
And suddenly nothing is certain
As if all the clouds closed the curtains and blocked the sun
And friends now are strangers in this city of dangers
As cold and as cruel as they come

Sometimes I look at old pictures
And smile at how happy we were
How easy it was to be hungry.
It wasn’t for fame or for money
It was for love
Now my copper hair’s gray as the stones on the quay
In the city where magic was

Living in Paris, in attics and garrets
Where the coal merchants climb every stair
The dance hall next door is filled with sailors and whores
And the music floats up through the air
There’s Sancerre and oysters, and Notre Dame’s cloisters
And time with it’s unerring aim
For now we can say we were lucky most days
And throw a rose into the Seine

Now I can say I was lucky most days
And throw a rose into the Seine.

 

Next time I am in Paris, I shall throw a rose into the Seine …. for  Hadley …

One Response to Mary Chapin Carpenter and I connect …

  • What beautiful lyrics! And how wonderful that art can connect us like that, to know that someone else felt the same way about Hadley as you did. I’ll throw a rose in the Sienne for long suffering Hadley as well.

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About Astra
Ottawa mom of 3 poking fun at myself, motherhood, and minor hockey! I am steering through life dodging stinky hockey gear and empty wine bottles.
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