Metamorphosis TWENTY SEVEN

Posted on 28th May, 2019

DAY 27


The Nature of Man : Catriona Scott


Spring Time

Babies coo

Roots grow

Children too


Summer Time

Children change

Flowers bloom

Teens estrange


Autumn Time

Adults emerge

Petals wilt

Mournful dirge


Winter Time

Man falls

Wind howls

Death calls


We live our lives as best we can

It is our nature

The Nature of Man




Viol neck absorbing ultra-violet in the sun




Instrument Maker’s Workshop : Vivien Jones


Venice, around 1540. The Jewish quarter – the instrument workshop has one wall thrown open to the sun, three nearly finished viols, one just strung, hang in the doorway spinning slowly. The maker is bent over his workbench, carving the head of another viol into a tight spiral. He works with a gouge and mallet chasing the curve to where it disappears into its own centre. He grunts with satisfaction. On the bench shavings in single ringlets testify to his skill – the workshop is strewn with tools, chisels, planes, gouges and others – each in sets of different sizes. There is a stinking glue kettle by an open fire. In the yard a saw pit, a pole lathe and the dangerous varnish cauldron sit idle. He will be occupied by the fine finishing work for the next three days – the carving of the head, the fitting on the neck to the body, the turning of the pegs. In the yard also are his wood stacks – boards of sweet chestnut resting on sticks, stacked to dry slowly, each stack a year older than its neighbour, five stacks in all. The sixth stack is the pinewood, brought down in horse trains from the Alps, wood for the soundboards, expensive, worth stealing.  He is a master maker – he has been to the mountains and tapped the trunks as they tip onto the flume down the slopes – he has made his mark, a tar L for his name, on the ones he will buy and saw up into boards.  He knows the joy of listening to a board and hearing the rustle of a responsive piece.   In the corner of the workshop a boy is combing the fourth set of one hundred and thirty eight horse hairs he has counted out into a straight bundle. He is preparing materials for a bow. A row of beech sticks lie beside him and a group of cherry frogs with a pile of lime-wood wedges, split by the master that morning.  He is the apprentice, allowed to perform certain small tasks, allowed only to help with others. Counting and tying hairs, putting the glue pot to heat up – he is not yet strong enough to be the under-dog in the saw-pit – the master hires a labourer for that but he is a bright and willing boy, brave enough to ask questions and, secretly, the master loves him for his curiosity and diligence. The master often gives menial work to the city’s beggar boys for a few scudi, but this one he has taken into his workshop to teach.  He his own son is not yet old enough for such learning, but sometimes sits laughing on the floor crowning himself with fragrant shavings before boredom sends him running back to his mother. Today the master has promised to show the apprentice how to sharpen his precious plane blades on the wet-stone – how to judge the angle, the force, how much oil to apply, how to measure the edge against clear blue sky – but for now the master lays down the gouge, wipes his brow and takes down the viol with strings from the doorway.

He gestures to the boy who hands him a bow from the rack behind him. ‘I’m no musician.’ He tells the boy but nevertheless, makes him weep with the beauty of the sound he coaxes from the viol. ‘That’s a tree singing.’ He says, ’Just a tree, some old sheep guts and a horse’s tail.’     





















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Comments (1)

Love the way your story takes us back to a different world, Vivien.