The Village Blacksmith

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American Romantic poet, was born in Portland, Maine, on February 27, 1807, and died on March 22, 1882. Longfellow moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts in December, 1836. He is considered a Fireside Poet, or part of a group of New England authors that wrote material very suitable to be read as entertainment to members of a family, often read aloud in front of a residential fireplace.

The Village Blacksmith was first published in 1841 and was inspired by his ancestor Stephen Longfellow, a village smithy, schoolmaster, and town clerk.

 

Under a spreading chestnut tree 
 The village smithy stands; 
The smith, a mighty man is he, 
 With large and sinewy hands; 
And the muscles of his brawny arms 
 Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long, 
 His face is like the tan; 
His brow is wet with honest sweat, 
 He earns whate'er he can, 
And looks the whole world in the face, 
 For he owns not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night, 
 You can hear his bellows blow; 
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge, 
 With measured beat and slow, 
Like a sexton ringing the village bell, 
 When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school 
 Look in at the open door; 
They love to see the flaming forge, 
 And hear the bellows roar, 
And catch the burning sparks that fly 
 Like chaff from a threshing floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church, 
 And sits among his boys; 
He hears the parson pray and preach, 
 He hears his daughter's voice, 
Singing in the village choir, 
 And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like her mother's voice, 
 Singing in Paradise! 
He needs must think of her once more, 
 How in the grave she lies; 
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes 
 A tear out of his eyes.

Toiling, ?rejoicing, ?sorrowing, 
 Onward through life he goes; 
Each morning sees some task begun, 
 Each evening sees it close; 
Something attempted, something done 
 Has served a night's repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend, 
 For the lesson thou hast taught; 
Thus at the flaming forge of life 
 Our fortunes must be wrought; 
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped 
 Each burning deed and thought!

 

— Our Favorites, By Mrs. General O.C. Maxwell, p.202

 

The Village Blacksmith, Inspiration to Henry Longfellow

 

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