“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting with the gift of speech.”
- Simonides of Ceos

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

"The Village Blacksmith" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

First published in 1840, "The Village Blacksmith" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a wonderful example of a short, narrative poem. It not only tells the reader a story, but it is one which many can relate to since it is really a story of the "everyman". After its initial publication in a periodical, "The Village Blacksmith" was then included in a volume of Longfellow's works entitled Ballads and Other Poems, published in 1841, which included other now well-known poems such as, "The Wreck of the Hesperus" and "Excelsior".

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Program Credits

Announcer: Thomas Lamar
Narrator: Jeffrey K. Holbrook
Composer: Andrew Boone
Sound Design & Mixing: Christopher Green
Photography: Lubos Houska
Producer/Director: J.D. Sutter

Special thanks to the Primitive Baptist Sermon Library for the "Amazing Grace" audio and to Jeremy Sarber for helping us track it down.

Entry on Wikipedia for "The Village Blacksmith"
Entry on Wikipedia for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Longfellow's Bio on The Poetry Foundation
HWLongfellow.org - A site maintained by the Maine Historical Society
Indepth Analysis of "The Village Blacksmith" from enotes
Lessons Learned From "The Village Blacksmith" - Blog post from The Art of Manliness

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Image credit: Wikimedia

"The Village Blacksmith" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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.

  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!

Longfellow Village Blacksmith (manuscript 1).jpg
Original Manuscript of the Poem
Public Domain, Link

This production is dedicated to Floyde Holbrook, 1934 - 2017.
"Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work..." Isaiah 54:16 KJV