We had the second session of our Beyond the Sword Project today at Preston Park and today was the first time we got to handle some actual swords. Hopefully, in the next two or three weeks I’ll be able to put up some poems composed by the young people. What we were concentrating on this time was the blacksmith as ‘artist’, rather than just the maker of useful tools and objects.
We then started to develop our owm poems based on the experience of handling the swords. We will be continuing this theme next time we meet.
I really want us to consider the sword from two completely different viewpoints, that of the person wielding the sword, but also that of the blacksmith and hopefully those two viewpoints will be reflected in the writing.
We were very lucky indeed to have Pete, (one of the blacksmiths based at Preston Hall), to tell us a bit more about the work of the blacksmith now, compared with the traditional role. I read extracts from Longfellow’s poem ‘The Village Blacksmith’ and we considered the different qualities and physical attributes of the present-day blacksmith, (in this case Pete!), as opposed to those outlined in Longfellow’s poem. 🙂
So, watch out for some poems to come over the next few weeks.
In the meantime, here’s my blacksmith poem. Those of you on the project, read my handout notes and see how many things you can link back to this poem.
Fire-tamer, you with a line to Achilles:
who needs your protection after all these years?
There is no one for you to shield.
We don’t require your swords and spears.
Knight of the hammer, things functional
came from the way you turned earth’s ore.
Furrows were cut, daggers were drawn.
You were in chains, you unlocked doors.
Once you forged thunderbolts
that ruled the world.
Everyone was caught up in your net of iron.
Some say you even fashioned women out of gold.
Mulciber, great softener, pounding at your anvil
you make noble that which once was base,
your iron fist has now been velvet gloved,
your art used not for killing, but for grace.
More poet than producer, you capture spontaneously,
that moment between man, fire and hammer,
and bend the hot black metal into something beautiful.
There, still glowing in the embers, is your magic power.
Poet-in-Residence, Preston Hall Museum,