The Bodger

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Kim is offering an Artisans prompt tonight over at dVerse. The challenge is to write a poem about an artisan or wright, for example a weaver, thatcher, wheelwright or carpenter, or any other craftsman you can think of. It can be a real person, you or someone you know, or a fictional person. All I ask is that you emulate the form and/or style of one of the Heaney poems.

Camp set for the day
by the Beech woods
Young quick grown tree

green wood
selected and felled
from within the stand

Billets sawn into chair leg lengths
and split with a wedge
a one face sharpened axe would get to work
to cleave the billet
into pieces for shaping

The Bodger takes up his draw knife
and shapes the wood
old shave horse holds all steady
he eyes the wood round as would a sculptor
looking for the chair leg hidden in the grain

now for the delicate touch
set up in the pocket
wind the cord
oil the ends

a pole lathe treddle whirs
powered by foot
and shavings fly
and the leg appears
smooth and shapely

chiseled then to rough perfection
and chiseled finer to be marked up

left to season in the beech woods
before benchman and framer
complete the task

and a chair is made

and some day sat upon

by perhaps one not aware of the Bodger’s art


28 thoughts on “The Bodger

  1. kim881 says:

    First of all, I love the word ‘bodger’ and I enjoyed the explanation of the term in the video clip. I’m so glad you included it. I also enjoyed the realism of your poem – it’s about a real person and a real craft, traditional,and practical. It is such a shame that crafts are dying out. Even the jargon, the names of tools and techniques, are magical:
    billets, wedge, one face sharpened axe, cleave, draw knife, shave horse, treddle and chisel. The next time I sit on a wooden chair, I’ll think of the bodger. At the moment I’m perched on an office chair!

    • paul scribbles says:

      Thanks Kim. I have a very good friend who lives in the woods not half a mile from here who is a Bodger and I have had a go at bits of it. Such a relaxing thing to do. Maybe one day I’ll make my own chair legs.

  2. Glenn Buttkus says:

    Your piece is magical, so authentic it articulates sense of place with every sound, smell & vibe. I had never heard of the term bodger before either.

  3. whimsygizmo says:

    How cool. How often do we sit upon a piece that represents hours of work and creativity, without thinking of the person who made it? I love this. A great metaphor for me as a believer, also, as I think of how I take my Creator’s works for granted every day.

  4. lillian says:

    Wonderful! I was not aware of the term “badger.” I especially like where you indicate the chair leg is hidden within the grain of the wood. What a talent to see beyond a “chunk” of wood! 🙂 And even more of a talent to tease out the vision!

    • paul scribbles says:

      Thanks Lillian. I always think of the sculpting reference from Michelangelo when I watch artisans at work

      “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. “

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