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the craft of handles

updated sat 1 sep 01


Wesley Rolley on fri 31 aug 01

Phil, your discussion of handles made me think of a poem by Gary Snyder,=
Axe Handles.

One afternoon the last week in April
Showing Kai how to throw a hatchet
One-half turn and it sticks in a stump.
He recalls the hatchet-head
Without a handle, in the shop
And go gets it, and wants it for his own.
A broken-off axe handle behind the door
Is long enough for a hatchet,
We cut it to length and take it
With the hatchet head
And working hatchet, to the wood block.
There I begin to shape the old handle
With the hatchet, and the phrase
First learned from Ezra Pound
Rings in my ears!
"When making an axe handle
the pattem is not far off."
And I say this to Kai
"Look: We'll shape the handle
By checking the handle
Of the axe we cut with-"
And he sees. And I hear it again:
It's in Lu Ji's Wen Fu, fourth century=20
A.D. "Essay on Literature"-in the=20
Preface: "In making the handle Of an axe
By cutting wood with an axe=20
The model is indeed near at hand.-
My teacher Shih-hsiang Chen=20
Translated that and taught it years ago
And I see: Pound was an axe,
Chen was an axe, I am an axe=20
And my son a handle, soon=20
To be shaping again, model=20
And tool, craft of culture,
How we go on.