Posted by Barbara Barrett on 18th August 2014
1. Damascus steel was made from wootz steel, a steel developed in India around 300 BC. These swords are characterized by distinctive patterns of banding and mottling reminiscent of flowing water. Such blades were reputed to be tough, resistant to shattering and capable of being honed to a sharp, resilient edge. The original method of producing Damascus steel is not known. Because of differences in raw materials and manufacturing techniques, modern attempts to duplicate the metal have not been entirely successful. Despite this, several individuals in modern times have claimed that they have rediscovered the methods in which the original Damascus steel was produced.
[origin: was a term used by several Western cultures from the Medieval period onward to describe a type of steel used in Middle Eastern swordmaking from about 1100 to 1700 AD.]
“Boots of Cordovan leather, chests of ash,
Damascus steel, rare silks and silver plate;
Rough-carven gems to match the starlight’s flash,
And gold moidores cresting a piece-of-eight!
Tuns of brown ale and barrels of black rum,
And many a pipe of sharp Canary wine;
Toledo blades that shimmer, gleam and hum,
And bales of spice and idols of odd design!
“Ah, such dreams grip and cut me like a knife!
Let others rest in sweet slumbering death—
I cannot sleep; I need the sting of life,
The pounding of my veins, the fire, the strife,
The slashing spray, the sea-wind’s blasting breath;
The joy, the pain, the peril, sun and snow,
The tavern, and the ale at Plymouth Hoe!
“I cannot rest in Nombre Dios Bay.
Up through the seething fathoms I arise.
When night reefs sails to drink the dying day
And stars are longboat lanterns in the skies,
Then sea to sea I live it all again—
My youth and manhood. . . Devon and the Main!”
I met the ghost of Drake one Devon night;
He sang of sail and sword and reaving stench—
And in his eyes there burned the sea-thrown light
Of life-loving life not even Death can quench.
[from “Drake Sings of Yesterday”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 466 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 412]