14 / CHRONICLESnAnd may the lovely Muses first of alln(Whose priest I am, love-struck by poetry)nAeeept me; show me the roads of heaven, the stars.nThe various solar eclipses, works of the moon,nEarthquakes, what forces make the high seasnSwell and ruin the shores and once againnFall back, and why the suns of winter hastennTo dive into the ocean, or what delaynObstructs the winter nights that move so slowly.nBut if my heart’s own cooling blood preventsnAttaining to these properties of nature.nLet me love the fields and valley streams.nThe unassuming woods and rivers. The meadows,nSperchius, Taygetus where the Spartan virginsnDance: there, or in the cool vale under Haemus,nLet someone place me in broad shade of branches.nThat man was happy who could know the causesnOf things and under his feet could trample fear,nUnyielding fate, and the roar of greedy Acheron.nAnd there is a sense in which he has overfulfilled hisnresponsibilities. It is credible from our perspective to findnthe largest fault of his rural poem in its enormous influence.nThe Georgics is the wishful cornerstone of the JelfersoniannUtopia, a nation of small landholders. If the poem containsnenough realistic detail to be convincing, it is still a fairy talenat heart. There is no mention of slave labor in the Georgics,nnor even of hired labor. The farmer is enjoined to benThe Boy From Oak ParknWe remember Ernest Hemingwaynchiefly as a figure in his own fictionn—a newspaperman in Europe, annhabitue of Parisian cafes, an aficionadonof Spanish bullfighting, a biggamenhunter on the African veldt,nan American in World War I andnthe Spanish Civil War. In ThenYoung Hemingway (New York:nBlackweU; $19.95), Michael Reynoldsnfocuses on a different Hemingway,nthe Hemingway of Oak Park,nIllinois, the writer’s “first worldn. . . the one he never wrote about.”nAlthough Hemingway eventuallynmoved far from a Middle Americannperspective in his fiction, Reynoldsnargues that his personal code grewnout of his early experience in thensemirural Midwest.nUnlike contemporary Oak Park,nnow a typical bedroom suburb fornChicago commuters. Oak Park innthe early 1900’s was “an islandnon the Illinois prairie. . . . Cowsngrazed in vacant lots that now havenREVISIONSndisappeared, and dogs ran freely innsummer dusty streets where therenwere more horses than dogs.” OaknPark had already lost much of itsncountry flavor when Hemingwaynreturned in 1919 from his servicenwith the Red Cross in Italy duringnWorld War I: The Oak Park policenbecame motorized in 1911, and thenvillage fathers banned chickens inn1913. Fortunately, there remainednthe Hemingway summerhouse innHorton Bay, Michigan, looking outnover Lake Walloon to the Hemingways’nLongfield Farm. In an engagingnnarrative style, Reynolds takes anclose look at the two summersnHemingway spent at Horton Baynafter his World War I service. Thenexperiences that inspired the NicknAdams stories date back to this period.nMore importantly, a series ofnsketches of Horton Bay residentsnthat Hemingway began in 1919neventually provided the basis for InnOur Time (1924), Hemingway’snfirst notable literary success. Reynoldsnlocates these early Horton Baynnncontent with a modest farm that will just support his family.nBut three bad years in a row, or precipitous debtorship, willnmake beggars of this family. We read now with specialnsadness the lines in which security is named as the chiefncomfort of the farmer’s life:nThe farmer divides the earth with crooked plow;nThis the year’s whole labor: thus he sustainsnHis little family and his fatherland.nHis herd of cows and his blue ribbon bulls.n”Perhaps it may still be possible,” we think, forgetting thatnVergil places this idyllic picture in the mythic past, undernthe reign of aureus Saturnus, golden Saturn, before ironnJupiter seized the scepter.nProbably the poet was never the substantial friend thenfarmer was looking for. Still he has proved a better friendnthan the scientist and the government expert. He hasngenerally shown admiration rather than contempt for thenfarmer’s personal capacities, and if his advice has not alwaysnbeen useful, at least it has not been deadly.nMr. Tate was right, of course. Most poets would makenbetter lutenists than farmers. But even the most inept of usnstill feel close kinship with the man in the fields, with hisnlife of ordered observation and inspired patience. That isnthe one life besides poetry and natural philosophy that stillntouches an essential harmony of things, and when ancivilization discards that way of life, it breaks the mostnfundamental covenant mankind can remember.nsketches in the same “small town”ntradition as the work of HamlinnGarland and Edgar Lee Masters.nNeither Oak Park nor HortonnBay was a scene of familial concordnfor the Hemingways, however, andnReynolds does a good job of tracingnthe young writer’s growing estrangementnfrom both of his parents duringnthe postwar years. But then, atnleast in literary matters, Hemingwaynthought it possible for a man ton”select his own ancestors”: In 1920nhe chose Conrad as a forebear; anyear later he chose Sherwood Anderson.nIn time, he had constructedna long personal pedigree. Reynoldsnprovides a valuable discussion ofnHemingway’s first steps up towardnthe modern literary pantheon. Lessnuseful are the predictable chargesnof sexist insensitivity and politicalnapathy—one more indicationnof the ideological rigidity thatnhas straitjacketed the Englishnprofession.n