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Then Yasutsuna

saw half the swords were broken

on the battlefield.

After thirty days he’d forged

curved, slaughter-proof blades.

 

The gohei protect

our tatara from evil.

Older steel will stretch.

By the flames’ colour, we know

when the curve must be straightened.

 

Burns just mark me out;

hammering gives me tremor.

I can’t stop half-way.

Cold alloy cannot be worked.

I cannot grip my chopsticks.

 

Thick clay is applied

to the blades, before quenching.

Resilience comes

with a gradual cooling:

that is how we gain our souls.

 

The visual effect

of differential hardening –

a bright, speckled band –

can be seen from long angles:

nioi can never be faked.

 

Sharpening gives shape:

it can take up to two months.

Some old tachi blades

can be converted, but lose

signatures in the process.

 

The nukitsuke,

or ‘Moving Zen’ as it’s called,

used by Iadoka

show two hands better than one:

tensile strength and grace revealed.

 

You protect your lord.

Seppuka preserves honour,

warrior, weapon:

Tamahagane’s fusion

of deity and mankind.