The Age Demanded

August 23, 2006 at 2:39 am 1 comment

Ernest Miller Hemingway


The age demanded that we sing
And cut away our tongue.

The age demanded that we flow
And hammered in the bung.

The age demanded that we dance
And jammed us into iron pants.

And in the end the age was handed
The sort of shit that it demanded.

Among the couple Hemingway poems I found, this one caught my eye, instantly. You can immediately see the work that needs to go into crafting something this compact and complete.

“The poem is spare but not minimalist. The terseness is never allowed to get in the way of the smooth flow of the words, but Hemingway nevertheless manages to convey his point with a remarkable economy. [1]

Interestingly this poem was inspired by Erza Pounds’ Hugh Selwyn Mauberly.


The age demanded an image
Of its accelerated grimace,
Something for the modern stage,
Not, at any rate, an Attic grace;

Not, not certainly, the obscure reveries
Of the inward gaze;
Better mendacities
Than the classics in paraphrase!

The “age demanded” chiefly a mould in plaster,
Made with no loss of time,
A prose kinema, not, not assuredly, alabaster
Or the “sculpture” of rhyme.



[1] Detailed commentary.

[2] Commentary at the minstrels.

[3] His first published work included poetry – Three Stories and Ten Poems.



Entry filed under: Black Mamba, English, Ernest Miller Hemingway, Prose Writers.

Luthien Tinuviel She tells her love while half asleep

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  August 24, 2006 at 6:50 am

    This poem reminded me for some reason of “Unending Love” by Tagore


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