Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

    Axe Handles
    by Gary Snyder
      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 
      A.D. "Essay on Literature"-in the 
      Preface: "In making the handle Of an axe
      By cutting wood with an axe 
      The model is indeed near at hand.-
      My teacher Shih-hsiang Chen 
      Translated that and taught it years ago
      And I see: Pound was an axe,
      Chen was an axe, I am an axe 
      And my son a handle, soon 
      To be shaping again, model 
      And tool, craft of culture,
      How we go on.


dinahsnipessteveni said...

I'm going to forward this link to my son who received a "throwing ax" a year or so back. He's a wonderful father. thanks for posting this thoughtful poem.

Lee Love said...

Welcome Dinah! congratulations on raising a fine Son!