Sunday, June 24, 2018

Besmattered With Smoke

—Anonymous Photo

—Anonymous, 15th Century

Swart swarthy smiths besmattered with smoke

Drive me to death with din of their dints.

Such noise on nights heard no one never;

What knavish cry and clattering of knocks!

The snub-nosed changelings cry after "col, col!"

And blow their bellows till all their brains burst:

"Huf, puf!" saith one; "Haf, paf!" another.

They spit and sprawl and spell many spells;

They grind their teeth and gnash them, and groan together,

And hold them hot in their hard hammers.

Of bulls' hide are their leather aprons.

Their shanks are shielded from the fierce sparks:

Heavy hammers they have; that are hard handled,

Stark strokes they strike on an anvil of steel

Lus, bus! Las, das! they strike in rotation

The Devil destroy such an doleful noise.

The master lengthens a little piece, belabours a smaller,

Twines the two together, strikes a treble note

Tik, tak! Hic, hac! Ticket, taket! Tyk, tak!

Lus, bus! Las das! such lives they lead

All horseshoers: Christ give them sorrow

For none for these waterburners at night may rest.


For more about “The Blacksmiths” and its onomatopoeia, go to

And speaking of Workshops (Our Seed of the Week), today from 12-4, Nick LeForce will present his “Wording the World Workshop” at Sacramento Poetry Center. Free! Info: the world/. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


 —Anonymous Photo
Celebrate poetry—and the ancient workshop of the horseshoe!

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