I won’t try and interpret the poem—I would be wrong in any case. I often see things that were never intended; while others might think out of the box, I am nowhere near the box. Still, anyone reading the poem will get a sense of purpose versus desire and how they might come together. As well I always come away from the poem with a keen view of the vantage point from where I look at things has much to do with what I see—and I should be cautious to always remember and understand where others are perched went they share an opinion.
My main interest in the poem is chopping wood. Gathering wood for the winter is so in tune with nature. Animals that hibernate will look for a den; the nutty creatures of the world gather what they must. Spring’s purpose is to explode with growth and possibility; autumn demands we prepare to sustain. Chopping wood helps me go into that frame of mind. Yes, there will be holidays; but they too should remind us of thanking the good earth for its bounty, and as darkness creeps in we will ask the spirits to protect us through the long night.
The first row of wood is always the best, as it says ‘yes’ you will have fire; there will be warmth as the cold winds whirls around the chimney, and the heat and smoke rise to forbid entry. After the first row, there is a feeling of accomplishment—the rest will add to what was up to now a necessary task. I wonder if squirrels count their store in fashion?
Chopping wood conjures up what it must have been like when homes were heated entirely from wood; wood houses, piles like pyramids, axes ringing for days and weeks as they moved the cords of logs to what the long winter would require. Of course the smart ones were a year ahead of the cycle if dry wood was the goal—a whole different matter.
The chopping is much a form of meditation. The piece of wood is set to where the knot will not impede the split to come. The swing of the axe, one hand holds, the other slides along the handle with the arc of the blade. The wood and the axe are one; bring it down again on the heel of the axe, and let the wood do the work—the chunk of wood gives, and so it goes.
It is a good time to be outside and ponder what is to come; cycle into cycle, the more the hope that work will surrender to pleasure, and that pleasure might be one with the work. What other reason would we do what we must, unless we are doing what gives us pleasure?
We are all tramps in the mud unless we take up the axe for a different reason.