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26 April 2008

The Wordsmithy

- open day at my workshop, so come on in!

Written late April 2008 - (312 lines)

*

The Do Not Disturb sign has been removed
From my front door today
For visitors, long since approved
Are on their way

To show my hospitality
The door is opened wide
Welcome to the Wordsmithy!
Do come inside!

To enter here costs nothing yet
But do feel free to give
For even a Wordsmith has to get
The wherewithal to live

Take my workshop as it is
But do sit down please!
No alcohol on the premises
But a choice of different teas

You sense the hyperactivity!
Until it is time for bed
It's a hive of creativity
So please mind your head!

Do excuse my sweaty brow
And overalls, you see
The words were coming in full flow
When you interrupted me -

Not because I really like
Overtime, I do not
But a Wordsmith soon learns to strike
While the iron is hot

I'll put the bellows down for now
God knows they need a rest!
They make the written iron glow
The way I like it best!

Well now, and when I am done
Your heads will surely spin
Listen carefully everyone
Right, let us begin:

*

As a Wordsmith first of all you need
To master basic skills
But believe me you will not succeed
Without an iron will

Use only the very finest ore
The tools of the trade, plus feel
But I tell you, even more
You need nerves of steel

You may have a certain aptitude
You may have the design and the draft
You may even have the right attitude
But first - learn the craft!

Then, stoke the old furnace
Until half as hot as hell
And smoke surrounds its surface
Getting red as well!

Choose your design thoughtfully
Prepare the glowing ore
Then set to work artfully
Like the masters before

Have all tools ready before you start
And, this is crucial
Pour the full contents of your heart
Into the crucible -

And from there into waiting forms
Of your very own design
If some fall outside accepted norms
No reason to resign

With well-directed hammerblows
Against the red hot steel
Slowly the story grows
Into something you can feel

Lines appearing here and there
Beat them into shape!
I am in charge here and I swear
No word will escape!

Turning with skill and knowledge
The roaring inner rage
Into a graceful leading edge
For the user to engage

Faced with an edge of tempered steel
Which would slice bronze bells
Reluctant words are forced to kneel
And comply - or else!

Not one word do I ever miss
Before I relax
If any resist I make them kiss
The thin lips of my axe

For as long as I can, my major wish
To continue to create
Works that you may loathe or cherish
And others may debate

Long ago I deliberately chose
To make only useful things
And here is a secret: among those
Are thousands of little rings -

To weave into a mailshirt
That no lie can penetrate
That will repel the deep hurt
Of the spears of mindless hate

Different metals I have fused
And filed into armoured songs
A labour of love to be used
For righting many wrongs

And I have cast a song or two
In the foundry of my mind
Aware the job I was given to do
Is of a special kind

So heed the voice of experience:
If you are not in the mood
The best your mental mixer blends
Is a word-less interlude

And we need songs that move the heart
Songs that move the mind
Mastering both is a special art
Now difficult to find

"And how do you do it?" - That question is good!
And the answer gives me a lift:
Much can be learned, even understood
But what remains is a gift

So use that gift with humility
For without it you could not do
Anything out of the ordinary -
Does my answer make sense to you?

The word is heard everywhere today
The old, middle age and youth
Discuss, opine, talk, babble, say
Some still tell the truth

There are languages and dialects
Thousands I am told
A challenging picture for the intellect
And confusing to behold

A wise man claiming to understand
The professor and the fool
Says that in the Wordsmith's hand
The word is itself a tool!

Enough! For philosophy is not my field
I am a practical man
And I want to make a verbal shield -
I wonder if I can?

So I must continue to hammer away
And put my skills to the test
Honing to a mirror another display
In the medium I know best

I shall carry on beating the anvil
Of image and idea
Neither resting nor satisfied until
The result stands clear

And so long as magma still stirs inside
To transform innocent words
With care and skill and love and pride
Into double-edged swords -

That cut right through the wicked schemes
That the truly evil employ
Exposing their nightmares paraded as dreams
Shall remain my purpose and joy!

For I am a Wordsmith and now you know
Something about my trade
And so the time has come to show
Some of the things I made

But let me just say, come what may
Stick to what you know
Avoid many a modern way
To make your business grow

For I once accepted an outside job
To repair a fractured heart
But whatever I did it continued to throb
And the whole thing came apart -

My rivets have never failed before
But bursting at the seams
All that was left on my workshop floor
Was a heap of shattered dreams...

*

Now then, for all the world to see
Presented side by side
The contents of my gallery
Let me be your guide:

Here you will find my very best
Neatly arranged in rows
Lots of labour and little rest -
Still my collection grows!

Like a poetic anthology
Each one is unique
But share the same philosophy
And technique

This one I shaped around the bones
Of those already dead
To the sound of wounded children's moans
So is painted red

It is one of a group made recently
Particularly fine
From pictures posted on to me
From a place called Palestine

Look at the texture - yes, you may touch
And you may also feel!
You see? It does not take too much
To know that they are real

*

Here is one of a special kind
That I do once in a while
For even a Wordsmith must unwind
So I try to make you smile -

With a caricature of some public fool
But if you choose to laugh
At those who think they are Mr Cool
Well, two for the price of half

*

This towering statue adopted me
It took on a life of its own
After I joined two nuggets or three
And before long it had grown -

Into a giant and I had to bring
A specially made alloy
The hammer would swing, the metal sing
Hard work but what a joy!

This is the strongest link in the chain
And so it will never break
I forged it with truth and love and pain -
It took a whole month to make

Forged, yet totally genuine
And there it is, proudly placed
Don't miss it for it must be seen
Its reality must be faced

And why did I bother? Because I am appalled
At the tactics of the Devil
So it is no surprise that I called
It The Axis of Evil

The first major work on my shelf
I remember the sensation
It proved that I could express myself
It was like a revelation...

Still nearly twice the size
Of anything else wrought so far
The entire workshop was energised
It certainly raised the bar!

There I set my creative urge free
In every paragraph
And I would be content to see
That as my epitaph!

*

And here is a little figure of steel
Polished, look how it shines!
I made it as a special appeal
For the people of Palestine

*

That one I made from the purest gold
I had to take extra care
For a Wordsmith is used to steel and to hold
Something so fine and rare -

Was not easy with my clumsy hands but, all told
I managed to work it, and there
It is, it will never be sold
But you are welcome to stare

*

And here we have a little gem
Though of steel, not precious stone
Do you also see two? There is nothing like them
One could not exist on its own

It may look like something from outer space
And at first I thought there were two
Then I smelted them into a warm embrace
And they fused like lovers do

*

You must meet my only pair of twins
They are not identical ones
Where one figure ends the other begins -
Stand proud my little sons!

*

To cast that little silver drum
Ingenuity was needed
Skimming off the froth and the scum
Was tricky but I succeeded -

And now it hangs there on a silver thread
You may tap it gently!
Then wait for responses from the dead
Patiently...

*

And this little bell which hangs here alone
Can be heard only by some
Strike it softly and it sets the tone
For many years to come

*

There are many more which ought to be shown
But I do not feel up to the task
So have a good look at them on your own
Any questions, you know where to ask

*

Now, should any of you wish to join the trade
Here is my advice:
Design and produce your own brand of blade
Without weakness or vice -

For anything else is a copy shop
Like a thief in the night
Not only boring but sure to flop
So do it right

Hammering in flexibility
May not do any harm
But guard your credibility
For it works like a charm

Build your reputation by word-of-mouth
Repeat customers are best
They will tell the north and the south
The east and the west -

That YOU are the greatest Wordsmith around
Craftsmanship does the rest
And if a better one is ever found
He surely must be blest

*

The tour is over, the visitors gone
It is late in the afternoon
I hope that today some good was done
And they come back soon

And time for me to go as well
To put my tools aside
To the sound of a lone evening bell
That I recognise with pride

Then maybe sit and think a while
What might tomorrow bring?
Perhaps a new work in a different style
To make my workshop sing!

Ideas and sketches for other songs
And we do not get any younger
But I shall use my hammer and tongs
Till I cannot lift them any longer

Maybe it is age but today has been tough
Now I must get some sleep
I shall dream of a form of words sweet enough
To make my hammer weep...

*

Copyright © 2008 - IBRAHEEM (O.E.H.Johansen) - All Rights Reserved

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