About Axehandles

Axehandles is a genealogy blog, one where I share my discoveries and processes.

The title and intention are inspired by the Gary Snyder poem of the same name, a reflection on how the past informs the present;  how the transmission of culture relies on the importance of memory and models, and the customs which connect them.

I’m fascinated by the contrasts, complements and overlaps between generations – how they define and replace one another.

I love to bust the long-standing myths prevalent in so many family histories and expose the true story.

Genealogy appeals to the geek in me who is ever exploring the juxtaposition between the ephemeral and eternal.

Axe Handles

One afternoon the last week in April
Showing Kai how to throw a hatchet
One-half turn and it sticks in a stump.
He recalls the hatchet-head
Without a handle, in the shop
And go gets it, and wants it for his own.
A broken-off axe handle behind the door
Is long enough for a hatchet,
We cut it to length and take it
With the hatchet head
And working hatchet, to the wood block.
There I begin to shape the old handle
With the hatchet, and the phrase
First learned from Ezra Pound
Rings in my ears!
“When making an axe handle
the pattem is not far off.”
And I say this to Kai
“Look: We’ll shape the handle
By checking the handle
Of the axe we cut with-“
And he sees. And I hear it again:
It’s in Lu Ji’s Wen Fu, fourth century 
A.D. “Essay on Literature”-in the 
Preface: “In making the handle Of an axe
By cutting wood with an axe 
The model is indeed near at hand.-
My teacher Shih-hsiang Chen 
Translated that and taught it years ago
And I see: Pound was an axe,
Chen was an axe, I am an axe 
And my son a handle, soon 
To be shaping again, model 
And tool, craft of culture,
How we go on.

– Gary Snyder


One thought on “About Axehandles

  1. I would love to tak with you about your very interesting and thorough research on the Enloe line. I am curious about whether your line is also somehow a part of my Enslow line. Please pm me on fb at Sonya Enslow Caudle or via email at sonyacaudle.sc@gmail.com. Thank you in advance!


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