Two poems on craftsmanship

Since the theme is on my mind these days.

First, My Table by Yeats.
Two heavy trestles, and a board
Where Sato’s gift, a changeless sword,
By pen and paper lies,
That it may moralise
My days out of their aimlessness.
A bit of an embroidered dress
Covers its wooden sheath.
Chaucer had not drawn breath
When it was forged. In Sato’s house,
Curved like new moon, moon-luminous,
It lay five hundred years.
Yet if no change appears
No moon; only an aching heart
Conceives a changeless work of art.
Our learned men have urged
That when and where ’twas forged
A marvellous accomplishment,
In painting or in pottery, went
From father unto son
And through the centuries ran
And seemed unchanging like the sword.
Soul’s beauty being most adored,
Men and their business took
Me soul’s unchanging look;
For the most rich inheritor,
Knowing that none could pass Heaven’s door
That loved inferior art,
Had such an aching heart
That he, although a country’s talk
For silken clothes and stately walk,
Had waking wits; it seemed
Juno’s peacock screamed.

And now an ode to bad work. N.B.:The lines are suppose to jump something like –_ but the formatting won’t work for some reason.
Junk, by Richard Wilbur

Huru Welandes
worc ne geswiceσ?
monna ænigum
σara σe Mimming can
heardne gehealdan.


An axe angles
from my neighbor’s ashcan;
It is hell’s handiwork,
the wood not hickory,
The flow of the grain
not faithfully followed.
The shivered shaft
rises from a shellheap
Of plastic playthings,
paper plates,
And the sheer shards
of shattered tumblers
That were not annealed
for the time needful.
At the same curbside,
a cast-off cabinet
Of wavily warped
unseasoned wood
Waits to be trundled
in the trash-man’s truck.
Haul them off! Hide them!
The heart winces
For junk and gimcrack,
for jerrybuilt things
And the men who make them
for a little money,
Bartering pride
like the bought boxer
Who pulls his punches,
or the paid-off jockey
Who in the home stretch
holds in his horse.
Yet the things themselves
in thoughtless honor
Have kept composure,
like captives who would not
Talk under torture.
Tossed from a tailgate
Where the dump displays
its random dolmens,
Its black barrows
and blazing valleys,
They shall waste in the weather
toward what they were.
The sun shall glory
in the glitter of glass-chips,
Foreseeing the salvage
of the prisoned sand,
And the blistering paint
peel off in patches,
That the good grain
be discovered again.
Then burnt, bulldozed,
they shall all be buried
To the depth of diamonds,
in the making dark
Where halt Hephaestus
keeps his hammer
And Wayland’s work
is worn away.

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