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 bear 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!
Ballads and Other Poems (1842) | Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
- Have your student memorize the poem. Younger children can memorize the first four stanzas.
- Explain in your own words the meaning of the poem. What analogy is being made?
- Illustrate the poem.
- View “The Village Blacksmith” by Nathaniel Currier. Orally describe the scene.
- Learn more about Longfellow.
- If you will be learning more Longfellow poems, create a poet/poetry notebook to include narrations, copywork, and other writing as you go.
- Older students can rewrite the poem as prose. If they are unsure of how to do this, use The Children’s Longfellow by Doris Hayman as an example.
14 Forms of Writing for the Older Student: Poetry
Ideas for doing more with the poem.
Poetry for Young People: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
While we have enjoyed this illustrated series as an introduction to various poets — Longfellow being a favorite — others might object to the sometimes-abridged versions of some poems appearing inside. The choice, as always, is yours!