Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
Hats are very poetic. When they are referenced in novels, or play a significant roll in a film or tv show, they lend a sense of romance or mystery to the narrative. Every once in a while one of us or a friend of ours will find a compelling passage, watch a significant film, or read a relevant poem having to do with hats. Here is a very sweet and sad poem that was passed on to us by a friend and fellow hat lover.
The Death of the Hat
By Billy Collins
Once every man wore a hat.
In the ashen newsreels,
the avenues of cities
are broad rivers flowing with hats.
The ballparks swelled
with thousands of strawhats,
brims and bands,
rows of men smoking
and cheering in shirtsleeves.
Hats were the law.
They went without saying.
You noticed a man without a hat in a crowd.
You bought them from Adams or Dobbs
who branded your initials in gold
on the inside band.
Trolleys crisscrossed the city.
Steamships sailed in and out of the harbor.
Men with hats gathered on the docks.
There was a person to block your hat
and a hatcheck girl to mind it
while you had a drink
or ate a steak with peas and a baked potato.
In your office stood a hat rack.
The day war was declared
everyone in the street was wearing a hat.
And they were wearing hats
when a ship loaded with men sank in the icy sea.
My father wore one to work every day
and returned home
carrying the evening paper,
the winter chill radiating from his overcoat.
But today we go bareheaded
into the winter streets,
stand hatless on frozen platforms.
Today the mailboxes on the roadside
and the spruce trees behind the house
wear cold white hats of snow.
Mice scurry from the stone walls at night
in their thin fur hats
to eat the birdseed that has spilled.
And now my father, after a life of work,
wears a hat of earth,
and on top of that,
a lighter one of cloud and sky–a hat of wind.
I am happy to say though, that it’s perhaps the end of this sad hat-less era, and perhaps soon we will again see the fantastic scene of a sea of men wearing hats, making their way through the streets, living their individual lives, but with the comfort of a companion atop their head.
~ Paul 1