I Remember The Bellows

Following on from my blog two days ago, ( ‘Fire, Forge and Furnace’ ) in which I attempted to place the work of the blacksmith in an historical context, I thought it may be the time to re-blog one of my very first published poems ( ‘I Remember The Bellows’ ), which described my introduction to the smithy, the blacksmith’s forge and, for me at the time, all its excitement and wonder.

bellows2

I grew up a long time ago, on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, in a staunch Methodist household, the son of the village blacksmith and farrier.  Two abiding memories of my early years were . . .

1. on weekdays, of pumping the bellows to maintain the heat of the fire in his forge, and . . .

 2. on Sundays, of being concealed behind the chapel organ, pumping the bellows to maintain the air to the organ  pipes during the hymn singing.

 For good or ill, BELLOWS thus became a significant part of my childhood, and I recently recalled these formative experiences in the following, light-hearted verses.

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I REMEMBER THE BELLOWS

 

Arms activate,  
Biceps bulge. 
I remember the bellows. 
Let my memory indulge. 

*

 The forge and the furnace  
The farrier’s tools.
His anvil, his hammers,
His tongs and ferrules.

 I build up the heat
Till the iron is blood-shot,
And molten and moulded –
Into what shape I know not. 

*

The pipes and the console
The organist’s tools
His feet and his fingers
Obey all the rules.

 I build up the wind
In the pipes till they sound
Out their diapason
To all those around.

 *

 So, it’s weekdays the smithy
And Sundays the Chapel.
A slave to them both,
And all that for an apple.

 Whilst I labour discretely,
And pump up and down,
They can’t do without me –
Best  aerator in town.

 

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Fire, Forge and Furnace

blacksmith1

‘The Smith’: Illus.from’The Book Of English Trades’, Museum of English Ryral Life, Reading University.

FIRE, FORGE & FURNACE

It began with the furnace
When limping Hephaestus
tamed his volcanic forge,
before Prometheus
poached fire,
and brought to mankind,
his creation,
those skills of
 inspired artistry
 in metal and the arts,
for which he suffered
until, released, liver-less,
 from his eagle-torn fate

So, his legacy,
passed on to the smith,
farrier, blacksmith, metalworker,
a noble calling
worthy trade
artist in iron
his skill
portrayed in metal
wrought within the fire
of Vulcan’s heart

Bent over the anvil
he finds his future
his art is in iron
his heart lies there too
the kiln his spirit
the anvil his easel
tongs his palette knife
his hammer his brush

Rendering and wrenching
forging
forcing his will
on that malleable metal
moulding with skill
stroking the steel
forming shape
to match imagination
to meet a need
create a masterwork
from his mind’s ferment

The furnace,
bellowed into life,
bright burning coals
in heat and fusion
throw shadows all around
as if their flickering flames
are desperate to escape
and return
to the place of their birth –
the fiery inferno
in Vulcan’s heart.

Hephaestus

Hephaestus

 

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I Remember The Bellows

smithy

I grew up in a staunch Methodist household, the son of the village blacksmith and farrier, living and working on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors.

Two abiding memories of my early years were –

 on weekdays, of pumping the bellows to maintain the heat of the fire in my father’s forge, and

 on Sundays, of being concealed behind the chapel organ, pumping the bellows to maintain the air to the pipes during the hymn singing.

For good or ill, BELLOWS thus became a significant part of my childhood, and I recently recalled these formative experiences in the following, light-hearted verses.


 

I REMEMBER THE BELLOWS

 

Arms activate,

Biceps bulge.

I remember the bellows.

Let my memory indulge.

*

The forge and the furnace bellows2

The farrier’s tools.

His anvil, his hammers,

His tongs and ferrules.

 

I build up the heat

Till the iron is blood-shot,

And molten and moulded –

Into what shape I know not.

*

The pipes and the console,EarlyPumpOrgan

The organist’s tools.

His feet and his fingers

Obey all the rules.

 

I build up the wind

In the pipes till they sound

Out their diapason

To all those around.

*

It’s weekdays the smithy,

And Sundays the Chapel.

A slave to them both,

And all that for an apple.

 

Whilst I labour discretely,

And pump up and down,

They can’t do without me –

Best  aerator in town.

 


 

smithy-early18thC