Professor Rob Harrill
6 November 2013
Interpretation of “My Grandfather's Tools” by Jim Daniels
This poem brings memories of the smell of fresh sawed wood and learning to drive nails when I was five. Daniels tells of his grandfather's life. A man who worked a lifetime doing what he loves. This is a sad tale not only of his grandfather's life and love of his work. It is also the even sadder story of the decline of the craftsman's trade that was once the backbone of American Industry. It is a tale of the disappearance of the pride that we American's once took in the Craftsman’s trade skills. The passing of the innovations, inventions and insights that once fueled our nation to greatness.
He is …show more content…
He replaces a casting in the steering column and loses reverse gear:
He charges tools on his credit card, forgets, my father pays the bills. (30-33)
Here you understand that Daniels is aware that his grandfather's time is growing short, though if he were to mention it, his grandfather would deny his loss of strength and stamina. Hence, in the next stanza:
The logic of dying escapes him, no wrench or screwdriver to save his thinning body. I smell death in his hands: already dirt is gone from under his nails. (34-38)
Then his family's realization that he will leave them soon, of a legacy lost. “When he dies, we'll all file down /into his basement to sort tools hanging / from hooks, filling drawers, shelves, toolboxes,” (39-41). Until his tools are hung up on the racks that which he most probably built with his own hands, one final time. Tools that will be taken up later, by hands which are unskilled in their use.
And we'll hold them in our hands, feel their weight, pallbearers carrying off those clean bones, no one there to carve them back into tools. (42-45)
Feeling the weight of Grandfather's beloved tools and the knowledge that no skill in the world will be able to bring him back into their lives again.
This is an obituary to the confidence that was once evoked by the phrase, “Made in America.” A story of the passing of the industrial revolution's greatest Tinkerers and