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
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!
[Notes: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the foremost among contemporary American poets. Born in 1807. His chief poems are ‘Evangeline’ and ‘Hiawatha.’
His face is like the tan. Tan is the bark of the oak, bruised and broken for tanning leather.
Thus at the flaming forge of life, &c. = As iron is softened at the forge and beaten into shape on the anvil, so by the trials and circumstances of life, our thoughts and actions are influenced and our characters and destinies decided. The metaphor is made more complicated by being broken up.]
* * * * *
MEN OF ENGLAND.
Men of England!
Rights that cost your sires their blood!
Men whose undegenerate spirit
Has been proved on land and flood:
By the foes ye’ve
By the glorious deeds ye’ve done,
Trophies captured—breaches mounted,
Navies conquer’d—kingdoms won!
Hence but fruitless wreaths of fame,
If the virtues of your fathers
Glow not in your hearts the same.