(Poem #1391) The Grain of Sound
A banjo maker in the mountains, when looking out for wood to carve an instrument, will walk among the trees and knock on trunks. He'll hit the bark and listen for a note. A hickory makes the brightest sound; the poplar has a mellow ease. But only straightest grain will keep the purity of tone, the sought -- for depth that makes the licks sparkle. A banjo has a shining shiver. Its twangs will glitter like the light on splashing water. But the face of banjo is a drum of hide of cow, or cat, or even skunk. The hide will magnify the note, the sad of honest pain, the chill blood song, lament, confession, haunt, as tree will sing again from root and vein and sap and twig in wind and cat will moan as hand plucks nerve, picks bone and cell and gut and pricks the heart as blood will answer blood and love begins to knock along the grain.
I'm an admirer of craftsmanship in all its forms. The combination of patience, skill and beauty implied by the word always inspires me, and it's something I look for in everything I see. And poetry (good poetry, that is) is the perfect vehicle for it: the poet has to carve and fit words together like a carpenter or mason, he has to create images like a painter, he has to evoke feelings like a composer, and he has to do all this with the elegance of a mathematician. It sounds like a tough ask; fortunately for us, there are poets who can do and have done just that :) thomas. [Minstrels links] Poems that are sort of about craftsmanship, music, or both: Poem #60, Byzantium -- William Butler Yeats Poem #205, Crucible -- Carl Sandburg Poem #476, In My Craft or Sullen Art -- Dylan Thomas Poem #892, Stupid Pencil Maker -- Shel Silverstein Poem #963, Concerto for Double Bass -- John Fuller