(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

“The Horseshoe Finder” opens with a choruslike description of a pine forest with numerous tall trees. The chorus looks at the forest, wondering how many ships could be built from these trees and how the ships would fare in storms. The seafarer, “in his thirst for space” and eagerness to go to sea, is also trying to figure out how a ship can be built, comparing the raggedness of the sea to the firmness of the earth.

The point of view of the chorus is maintained in stanza 2. The chorus empathizes with the planks and boards of the ship built long ago, not by the peaceful carpenter of Bethlehem but by another one, the father of wanderings and friend of seafarers, presumably Odysseus. The chorus envisages, now in retrospect, that the boards were once tall trees standing on a mountain ridge. After the introduction, the poet is ready to “tell the story,” but he is uncertain where to begin. The scene shifts to a more modern time, in which everything “cracks and rocks” and the ships are replaced by two-wheeled vehicles breaking themselves to pieces at a racetrack.

In stanza 3, the poet hails the maker of a song, not an anonymous maker but the one who put his name to his or her songs, thus assuring its long life and gaining the laurels reserved for heroes of antiquity. Stanza 5 presents the poet’s musing about the transformation of the air into water, of water into crystal, and finally of crystal into earth, tracing the process...

(The entire section is 475 words.)