Monthly Archives: July 2013

Honest Sweat

There is something satisfying about working hard at a difficult physical endeavor. “Honest Sweat” is the term that comes to mind.

I am currently on location at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Festival, in Mt. Hope PA. Once again, I’m back in the saddle, and riding in medieval harness.

Today, we had a long rehearsal in the hot tiltyard. The white sand bounced the bright sun back into our eyes, as we practiced making passes with lance and shield.

I have never ridden with these three fine Knights of Noble Cause – and I’ve only been on this particular horse for three days. But already we are trading hits on the ‘suns anvil’ working ourselves and the horses in a curious ballet of faux combat. All the skills necessary to deliver a killing blow with a lance, and none of the intent to do so.

Of course, the horses don’t know that.

Walking the horses afterward, cooling them down, Scraping off their honest sweat, is a kind of communion with them. Horses welfare first – last and always.

Time enough for me to shower later.

I’ll let my honest sweat dry.

Work is its own cure

Some days, you have to find inspiration where ever you can. Motivation to keep going. I found this lovely poem on the blog of a beautiful and talented friend. She’s an actress. Thank’s Big Al, for the reminder.

For the young who want to


Talent is what they say

you have after the novel

is published and favorably

reviewed. Beforehand what

you have is a tedious

delusion, a hobby like knitting.


Work is what you have done

after the play is produced

and the audience claps.

Before that friends keep asking

when you are planning to go

out and get a job.


Genius is what they know you

had after the third volume

of remarkable poems. Earlier

they accuse you of withdrawing,

ask why you don’t have a baby,

call you a bum.


The reason people want M.F.A.’s,

take workshops with fancy names

when all you can really

learn is a few techniques,

typing instructions and some-

body else’s mannerisms

is that every artist lacks

a license to hang on the wall

like your optician, your vet

proving you may be a clumsy sadist

whose fillings fall into the stew

but you’re certified a dentist.


The real writer is one

who really writes. Talent

is an invention like phlogiston

after the fact of fire.

Work is its own cure. You have to

like it better than being loved.

Marge Piercy, “For the young who want to” from Circles on the Water: Selected Poems of Marge Piercy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982). First appeared in Mother Jones V, no. 4 (May 1980). Copyright © 1980, 1982 by Marge Piercy and Middlemarsh, Inc. Used by permission of the Wallace Literary Agency, Inc.

Source: Circles on the Water (Alfred A. Knopf, 1982)