The Old Man’s Gift

Recently I came across this poem and just had to post it. Written by Faye Vido, it is dedicated to the memory of Lambert Schoiswohl – a retired scythe-smith from Austria – and to other old men with “gifts” in their hands. Reading it one can feel the power and beauty resonating behind the words.

The Old Man’s Gift

“The scythe must dance,” the old man said “Yes I can imagine it in my head; But is this step first or that instead? There’s not a guide which I have read. Will you teach me all before you’re dead?”

“See what I do -watch closely now! The dance you’ll learn – I’ll show you how.” The young girl smiled and gave a bow, As she thought of a fragrant hay-filled mow, With leafy feed for her only cow.

Together they met in the meadow each morn, To dance before the day was born. One taught the steps, one learned the form, Stone often slipped from water-filled horn, Blade slicing smoothly grass and corn.

Gazing upon neat swaths with pride, And gratitude she did not hide, She thanked the teacher at her side, For a skill which makes the heart so blithe – The old man’s Gift before he died.

Faye abend Vido, January 2001


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