Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Village Blacksmith - Poem by Longfellow

My postcard is a souvenir of the Colonial Village at the 1934 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago. This post with the image of the The Village Blacksmith and the famous words from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem was prompted by the Sepia Saturday 68 image of the strong muscled mechanic at work in Lewis Hine's photo Power House Mechanic Working On Steam Hammer.

Longfellow's poem was first published in 1841. It is about a local blacksmith and his daily life. The first words are the best known part of the poem:
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.

Wikipedia has a synopsis and analysis of The Village Blacksmith:
The poem is about a local blacksmith who is noted as being strong and for not owing anyone anything, working by the sweat of his own brow. Children coming home from school stop to stare at him as he works, impressed by the roaring bellows and burning sparks. On Sundays, the blacksmith, a single father after the death of his wife, takes his children to church, where his daughter sings in the choir. He goes through his life following the daily tasks assigned to him and has earned his sleep at night.

The title character of "The Village Blacksmith" is presented as an "everyman" and a role model: he balances his commitments to work, the community, and his family. The character is presented as an iconic tradesman who is embedded in the history of the town and its defining institutions because he is a longtime resident with deeply-rooted strength, as symbolized by the "spreading chestnut tree".

Here is an illustrated version of The Village Blacksmith from Google Books:

Visit Sepia Saturday for More Vintage Images and Photos


  1. In 7th grade we had to memorize and recite a poem and i think a third of the class memorized "the village smithy"

  2. A very nice examination of a classic poem!

  3. What a treat! Your post is fantastic. Now, this kind of poetry I understand, and I can't believe the illustrations. Thank you so much.

    Thanks for stopping by to read about the CCC too.

    Kathy M.

  4. I don't understand a lot of modern poetry but this is a great poem that I could read again and again. I wouldn't know where to find a blacksmith now in the UK and that's a shame.

  5. Grueling work, as I can only imagine. It's a lovely card.

  6. Very interesting post for today's theme. I love that poem. Great post.

  7. Wonderful postcard! Very enjoyable post.

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed this post, a blacksmith held an important place in the community.

  9. Oh this was interesting to read and I was excited to see what you were going to post from your comment about the village Blacksmith, my first husband came from a long line of blacksmiths, and he and his father were weldors! Great post!

  10. Goodness me, that poem took me back to my Primary School classroom. Lovely take on the theme.

  11. and I had to look up 'sinewy' ! :)

  12. The illustration of the blacksmith reminded me so much of the illustration of the players cigarette ad in martin's post.
    Love the artwork from those days.
    Ladies of the grove

  13. I immediately thought of blacksmiths when I saw Alan's post, but couldn't find a photo. We DID go for a little walk past our village Smiddy and blacksmith's house which has been restored in the last few years - a blacksmith comes and gives demonstrations through the summer :-) Jo

  14. That's a wonderful postcard, the illustration is gorgeous!

  15. All I have to hear is that first line and I'm taken back in time.

    Nicely illustrated card.


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