Poems That Every Child Should Know/The Village Blacksmith

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["The 'village smithy' stood in Brattle Street, Cambridge. There came a time when the chestnut-tree that shaded it was cut down, and then the children of the place put their pence together and had a chair made for the poet from its wood."


The Village Blacksmith.

Longfellow (1807-82) is truly the children's poet. His poems are as simple, pathetic, artistic, and philosophical as if they were intended to tell the plain everyday story of life to older people. "The Village Blacksmith" has been learned by thousands of children, and there is no criticism to be put upon it. The age of the child has nothing whatever to do with his learning it. Age does not grade children nor is poetry wholly to be so graded. "Time is the false reply."

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 owes 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 begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned 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.

Henry W. Longfellow.