A Shona Praise-Poem from Zimbabwe, sung by the blacksmith’s wife in praise of her husband. His skills seem almost supernatural (he is a ‘craftsman’, a ‘wizard’, an ‘expert’), and his hoes, axes, hatchets, adzes and knives are bringing great wealth to his family.
Today this place is full of noise and jollity.
The guiding spirit that enables my husband to forge makes him do wonders.
All those who lack hoes for weeding, come and buy!
Hoes and choppers are here in plenty.
My husband is a craftsman in iron,
Truly a wizard at forging hoes.
Ah, here they are! They have come eager to find hoes.
Ah, the iron itself is aglow, it is molten red with heat,
And the ore is ruddy and incandescent.
My husband is an expert in working iron,
A craftsman who sticks like wax to his trade.
On the day when the urge to forge comes upon him,
The bellows do everything but speak.
The pile of slag rises higher and higher.
Just look at what has been forged,
At the choppers, at the hoes, at the battle axes,
And here at the pile of hatchets, large and small.
Then look at the double-bladed knives and the adzes.
Merely to list them all seems like boasting.
As for fowls and goats, they cover my yard.
They all come from the sale of tools and weapons.
Here is where you see me eating at ease with a spoon.
from Shona Praise Poetry
ed. Aaron C. Hodza & George Fortune, OUP
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