from The Luthier

Moulding the Sides


The bench cleared, ready; the Iron hot,
Wood, well-soaked, without stain or knot.

Cool head, sure hand – but there’s grace in it –
Graceless, the ribs collapse and split

The scorch of maple, the hiss of steam
Pungent end to a craftsman’s dream …

Grace then, and skill, in the craft I chose,
For wood bent justly turns and flows

Supple and shining, and moulded in
Shapes the song of a violin …

We stop at his door, then turn away:
“Quiet! He’s bending ribs today.”

from The Luthier: poems (Reed, 1966), © Ruth Gilbert 1966, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Waiata New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 1974

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