fragments of an attempted writing.

The Human Fold

Here penned within the human fold
No longer now we shake the bars,
Although the ever-moving stars
Night after night in order rolled
Rebuke this stationary farce.
There’s no alternative here but love,
So far as genuine love can be
Where there’s no genuine liberty
To give or take, to lose or have,
And having rots with wrong, and loss
Itself has no security
Except in the well-managed grave,
And all we do is done to prove
Content and discontent both are gross.
Yet sometimes here we still can see
The dragon with his tears of gold,
The bat-browed sphinx
Shake loose her wings
That have no hold and fan no air,
All struck dead by her stare.
Hell shoots its avalanche at our feet,
In heaven the souls go up and down,
And we can see from this our seat
The heavenly and hellish town,
The green cross growing in a wood
Close by old Eden’s crumbling wall,
And God Himself in full manhood
Riding against the Fall.
All this; but here our sight is bound
By ten dull faces in a round,
Each with a made-to-measure glance
That is in misery till it’s found.
Yet looking at each countenance
I read this burden in them all:
‘I lean my cheek from eternity
For time to slap, for time to slap.
I gather my bones from the bottomless clay
To lay my head in the light’s lap.’

By what long way, by what dark way,
From what unpredetermined place,
Did we creep severally to this hole
And bring no memory and no grace
To furnish evidence of the soul,
Though come of an ancient race?
All gone, where now we cannot say,
Altar and shrine and boundary stone,
And of the legends of our day
This one remains alone:
‘They loved and might have loved for ever,
But public trouble and private care
Faith and hope and love can sever
And strip the bed and the altar bare’.
Forward our towering shadows fall
Upon the naked nicheless wall,
And all we see is that shadow-dance.
Yet looking at each countenance
I read this burden in them all:
“I lean my cheek from eternity
For time to slap, for time to slap.
I gather my bones from the bottomless clay
To lay my head in the light’s lap’.

-Edwin Muir, from his Collected Poems.


  1. The new title is rather fitting. I am glad to find Muir making his way over here with you.

    Is your family near any flooding areas in Memphis?

    Also, related to the previous post, you had once mentioned a backyard foundry could be found for around 400 bucks...can you offer a resource for accomplishing this?

  2. Franny,

    I have several sources for backyard foundry work. Unfortunately they are all in boxes and I might not go through my book boxes looking for things right now until I see what the creek just west of my back fence is going to do once the flood hits peak levels. Thanks for asking about that. We are not in a flood plain, and didn't get flood insurance when the lady who owned the home for 50 years prior to us said the creek had never flooded. It just came up to the banks last weekend but then went down to its usual trickle again, so we'll see what happens next week. We are in one of those areas designated as potentially under flood threat. Our house has a crawlspace and is a bit above ground so I am not really worried about our personal effects. And the house has turned out to be such a nightmare piece of leaking everything break down shit that at this point I almost relish at the thought of it getting flooded, us going bankrupt, and walking away from this dump for good. Then again the kids' placentas are buried underneath the pecan tree, and the dogs like to chase snakes in the backyard, and we have good okra soil, so I guess I'd miss all that.

    For $400 you are going to be putting together rather piecemeal a very basic operation that will get you to the point that you can heat a crucible big enough to pour into a 12"x12" flask for sand casting.

    What I wasn't thinking of when I wrote about $400 backyard foundrywork was finishing. I didn't think of it because I have access to finishing equipment at my shop which covers everything I would ever need and more - all sorts of sanders, grinders, finishing wheels of every shape size and type, skat blaster, sand blaster, tumbler, a half dozen dipping solutions, a heat box, spray room, lacquer room and on and on.

    Obviously, for the backyard guy who does not have access to finishing equipment at his workplace, there is going to have to be something at home which will allow some level of finishing. No matter how nice the Dremel tool you are going to need a small sander as well. And at least a few different finishing wheels. I have known guys who just attached finishing wheels to a power drill, put the power drill into a vice, and used that for a wheel (you have to have it in a locked position of some sort so that you can apply pressure against the wheel; sometimes a lot of pressure is needed). If you only ever want a natural brass/bronze finish then all you will need is lacquer (if that; personally I hate lacquer and prefer my brass raw) and you won't need to worry about dipping solutions. But if you ever want to do an antiqued brass or a matte black finish, you will have to get into the chemical business, which will considerably up the cost, especially if you don't have experience with this because it takes time and a lot of trial and error to learn the ropes (location and weather matters - here in Memphis we dip for different amounts of time on a hot humid day than we do on a dry cool day - we also leave the work to dry in heat for different amounts of time, rub differently, and spray lacquer differently under different weather conditions -- in a backyard setting where you are paying $80 bucks for a couple gallons of solution the experimenting needed to master your specific finishing contingencies can really hit the wallet).

    That said, there is nothing more beautiful than a glowing crucible, and taking ladle to gate in a home setting when you have a few beers in you and thus you decided not to wear protection and then molten brass splatters over you and your buddies because of condensation in the sand is kick ass fun.

    So all that is to say email me in a few weeks when things have hopefully dried out here and I can help you out. owenandjoy at bellsouth dot net.


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