Unfinished Church


[This song was first performed at the 2016 Ernest Hemingway Conference in Oak Park, Illinois. It was inspired by a line in the final chapter of “The Sun Also Rises.” The recording is included on a CD of Hemingway inspired songs that was released at the Hemingway Society International Conference in Paris, July 22-27, 2018. All proceeds benefit the Hemingway Society Scholarship Fund.]

(For Ernest Hemingway and H.R. Stoneback)

There’s an unfinished church on the edge of a cliff.
Construction was halted, the result of a rift.
It’s bone breaking labor, so hot and so hard,
But we’ll see its completion if we lay down the sword.

Stone upon stone, lift, brothers, lift
For to finish that church on the edge of the cliff.

A trainload of pilgrims stops in Bayonne,
But there’s many more stations before the end of the run.
Montparnasse dandies will rip out your heart.
Remember what happened in the cathedral at Chartres.

Stone upon stone, shift upon shift
For to finish that church on the edge of the cliff.

They’re shooting off rockets to run with the bulls.
The street’s filled with voices of cretins and fools.
My generation is seeking its rest,
Lost like all others, no more but no less.

Stone upon stone, lift, brothers, lift
For to finish that church on the edge of the cliff.

Life’s a fiesta, the trout fishing’s fine.
We’ve been filling our bellies with pig meat and wine.
Darkness is falling, the knight blows his horn,
But the earth abides forever and the sun brings the morn.

Stone upon stone, shift upon shift
For to finish that church on the edge of the cliff.

Stone upon stone, be strong and be swift
For to finish that church on the edge of the cliff.

June 18, 2016

Copyright © 2016 by Michael Kim Roos

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