Only in Dark the Light


“Only in silence the word,

only in dark the light,

only in dying life:

bright the hawk’s flight

on the empty sky.”

-Ursula K. LeGuin

This is a bronze sword I made for the upcoming exhibition, “The Sword- Form and Thought” at the Deutsches Klingenmuseum in Solingen Germany. It is one of four swords in a part of the exhibit called Xiphos: penetrating light. Four other smiths and I were invited to create contemporary sword artifacts which explored the idea of penetrating light.

Here is a slideshow of the making of this sword. Thanks to Green Foundry for casting the blade and hilt scales.

When co-curator Peter Johnsson described the idea to me, one of my first thoughts was Ursula LeGuin’s poem “Only in Silence the Word”, which describes the relationship between apparent opposites. I made this sword as an exploration of the idea that darkness is the context in which light exists — one implies the other. It seemed to me that the best representation of both light penetrating darkness and the integral relationship between light and darkness, was to cast a bronze sword. The bronze penetrates the darkness of the mold as a glowing liquid, matter that is light incarnate. The mold shapes the liquid bronze into a sword just as darkness gives context to light.

I was partly inspired by the huge Bronze Age swords which may have been altars. There is one at the British Museum as wide as a man’s chest, as long as his legs, with no hilt. I wanted to make a sword that pushes the boundaries of size, a sword for an oak-skinned Bronze Age hero, a sword which holds the spirit of light in its pommel, is sharp and balanced, its blade a golden line of intent.

The opening of the exhibit will be on September 25th 2015, for more info have a look here The Sword – Form and Thought. I hope to see you there!




facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby feather

Jake Powning

Jake is a professional swordsmith, artist, and writer who explores the strange place where traditional culture and the land meet.


  1. Jake, I just had a look at your pictures and had to reply. Absolutely outstanding and very beautiful. The skill and commitment to perfection in this creation, and in your other works, is what keeps me going as a collector. While this is not my particular field of interest, I just can’t help being astounded by your sword. I am into the 6th-7th cent Swedish period (see Vince Evans Ultuna) and am a member of Wulfheodenas although I live in B.C. Yours, and other artists such as Vince, Petr F., Peter J. and Robert M. keep me interested in such a fantastic hobby. Congratulation Jake and I hope I will see many more incredible creations from you.
    All the best, Peter.

    • Thanks very much Peter. It’s an honour to be spoken of in such august company, and I appreciate you taking the time to pay me a compliment, it means a lot.

  2. Good heavens that thing is gorgeous. Absolutely stunningly gorgeous.

  3. Three cheers amigo! Great work as per.
    I studies your changed your mind with that central spine? Seems to me you went for a Boromir sword double fuller at the end..why was that just decided it didn’t look right the other way? I prefer the way youve done it in any case. Anyway..congrats!
    I will be spending this weekend with Chris Levatino (Bronze sword maker) on Staten Island. We will be making something special as a kickstarter reward for Paul Bolgers “Hound” backers over the next few months. At last I will get a chance to do some bronze casting myself..excited! 🙂 Cheers again! Owen Bright/AKA Eoghan Flynn.

  4. Dear sir:

    You don’t know me, I’m just someone that profoundly loves swords.

    I just want to say that this sword, this work of art, is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

    I can only stand in awe of it, of its beauty and in front of all the work that is behind such outstanding sword.

  5. hi Jake,

    stumbled on your page from another website (fb)
    your work is amazing mate .

  6. Your work is achingly beautiful! Totally inspiring.

  7. Jake, when introducing a friend with a newly discovered interest in swords to the various makers in the industry, I pulled up your website to showcase ‘one of the best, most artistic sword makers in the world.’ THIS is why your name came to mind with that description. Of course, it’s hard for anything to rival Du Sith…. but the spirit behind this blade is as profound as the beauty of its result. Job well done, sir.

    Brogdon Combs
    (AKA SlayerofDarkness on the SwordBuyersGuide forums)

Comments are closed