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Lay for the Day
1st December


The feast day of St Eloy, a seventh-century goldsmith who became patron of smiths, farriers and horses.


The Farrier

A bantam cockerel strutted on a wall,
his rust and black mineral feathers stirred
by a little wind. The farrier yanked the nails
from each foot and cut off four dirty crescents.
While the firebricks glowed in his portable forge
and the steel blued, he talked, finding a way
for his eagerness round the blocking stone
of his cleft mouth, determinedly, yielding;
told about his job and tools, the forge
in his smithy that would weld white-hot steel.
He bedded the shoes, bending his head down
into the sulphurous yellow hoof-smoke,
and finally shod with bright clipped nails
the hoof rasped pink and flush. That bird of slag,
displaying, unbridled sun, raking the ground
with his claws, cried aloud.

 
John Gibbens
from Collected Poems

 

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar

 

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