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Wear the Gold Hat

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Spain Switzerland Germany | gimmesomereads.com

In keeping with Great Gatsby week, here’s a Gatsby-inspired travel moment.

The Lingering Power of Poetry

Back in May of 2007, I went to Europe for a month to visit a few friends. Starting in Spain, I spent a week with Kate & André and then, randomly decided to spend 36 hours in Basel, Switzerland, before heading to Germany to see Taryn.

Everything about Basel was unknown to me — the language, the history, the people — so I simply wandered the streets and stopped when something looked interesting. One such something was the striking red building towering over the Marktplatz in the city centre — Rathaus (City Hall).

Stepping through the gates, I looked up to behold this standing high above me:

Immediately a strange line flitted through my mind, something about a bouncing gold-hatted lover. What? Later I remembered it was from the epigraph to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby:

Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her;
If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,
Till she cry “Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,
I must have you!”

Though it is marked as being written by Thomas Parke D’Invilliers, it is actually a poem by Fitzgerald himself using the name of one of his characters from This Side Of Paradise.

Back in high school when I first read the epigraph, before beginning the book, it seemed bizarre and silly. Now, 16 years later (!) when I reread The Great Gatsby and finished the last page, I thought — yes, the epigraph says it just right, holds all the inexpressibleness of Gatsby together in those four oblique lines.

I love that a strange little poem popped into my mind ten years after reading it simply because I looked up and saw a gold-hatted statue while wandering in Basel. That’s the power of poetry. It sticks with you (perhaps because it can’t be thoroughly explained), churning at the back of your mind, reaching for connections.

Bet at Rathaus | gimmesomereads.com

Bet outside Rathaus (taken by a stranger after lots of pointing & nodding) | Basel, Switzerland 2007

I definitely recommend random stops whilst travelling. You never know what you’ll stumble upon.

What do you think of Fitzgerald’s gold-hatted poem?
Would you wear the gold hat?
Which of the characters do you think would answer yes?

Kindle-editions available here: The Great Gatsby and This Side of Paradise.

Gimme Some Gatsby

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bet mercer

Bet Mercer is a poet-photographer who writes at Gimme Some Reads and Everyday Poetry. She loves quotes, reading her favourite books over again, great conversation, laughter, trees, films, and travelling the world. Follow along with Bet on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Etsy and Google+.

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