Issue: Issue 1.08
Posted Date: 8/1/2000
This was a conversation we couldn't resist. The first participant posted a message describing how he turns his own fountain pens, and how he just won a writing contest with a piece he wrote with one of his pens. Now, he wants to turn a new pen to commemorate his award and asked the group what kind of wood to use. He was looking for a wood with some kind of literary history or connection. The responses proved that woodworkers are a very literate group.
Of course, the first respondent was a punster and recommended "read" wood. We will forgive him, since it's his first offense. There was some consensus that chestnut had literary roots (sorry about that) with both George Orwell and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. There was also mention of Biblical trees, i.e. the apple tree from the creation story ? though we're pretty sure that the species of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil wasn't mentioned in the original text ? and olive trees.
Then a Shakespearean scholar found two references to yew trees and cited them:
The verse is from Titus Andronicus, Act 2, Sc. 3.
"The trees thro' summer yet forlorn
and lean overcome with moss and baleful mistletoe,
but straight they told me they would bind me here
unto the body of a dismal yew and
leave me to this miserable death."
Here's another, equally depressing, which mentions yew AND cypress: from Twelfth Night, Act II, scene 4
"Come away, come away, death,
And in sad cypress let me be laid;
Fly away, fly away, breath;
I am slain by a fair cruel maid.
My shroud of white, stuck all with yew,
[O prepare it!]*
My part of death, no one so true
Did share it."
This was followed by a short history lesson about the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The original woodturner thanked everyone for the suggestions and also told the group where they could find the poem that won the award. This discussion revealed the very creative, sensitive and intelligent nature of most woodworkers and made liars of those who call us unrefined, beer swilling, lug nuts who should never be let out of our shops and into the general populace.