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 haul, 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.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem The Village Blacksmith


  1. ivan latham says:

    henry wadsworth longfellows, the village blacksmith is my favorite poem because we listened to it in elementary school. i can just picture the blacksmith in my mind!

  2. Jerry Crystal says:

    Under the spreading donut tree
    The village chestnut stands
    And what a mighty nut is he
    With whiskers on his hands.
    And the muscles in his scrawny arms
    Are strong as rubber bands.

  3. Karen says:

    This was my Mums favourite poem from childhood days in Warwick Queensland Austalia. They learnt it off by heart, and when my son needed a piece of poetry for his English assignment this was dug out of my mothers head at a moments notice, she remembered most but had to think about the rest and ring me later, but in checking the original she had done very well. She is 80 now. The poem is so simple and heartfelt. Great words to live by. Bring it back is schools again I say.

  4. Deb says:

    My mom remembered this poem and suggested we include it in the program for my dad’s funeral a couple weeks ago. A family member looked it up on the Internet. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as she read it aloud. It was like looking through the door of my dad’s blacksmith shop again…the brawny arms, the sweat on his brow…the loud ringing of the hammer on white hot metal as he sharpened plow lathes amidst the flying sparks. I was that little girl walking home from country school stopping by to get a chance to say “Hi” to dad as I went home. There’s so much of this poem that describes my dad….
    I was never any good at memorization, but I’m glad my mom had learned this poem in school. It’s sad that when their generation is gone, many of us will no longer realize such fantastic literature even exists.

  5. Nancy says:

    Iknow this sounds crazy, but, as comment 81 stated, i found this in a memory book my mother did for my daughter. She passed away in Feb. of this year and I also wish I could ask her why she liked it so much. I really enjoyed it, though.

  6. barbara says:

    I just found a memory book “To my Daugter With Love” in it my mother wrote the the Village Blacksmith was her favorite poem. I think that is a wonderful poem about living a good and honest life. My mom died a year ago, I wish she was here to tell me why she liked this poem so much.

  7. poyal says:

    when I was in grade 8. I memorised this poem in the year 1989. Thank you. choose this poem.

  8. hannah says:

    im in english just wasting time 🙂 i am supposed to be doing a biography on this dude, but he SUCKS. so im posting a comment

  9. STAR JEWEL says:

    This is NOT a chat room you idiots!!! Ohh….Im from here…….I’m from there. None of you idiots are related to him…..stupid!

  10. tom Kennedy says:

    The forging and farriery I’ve done has been good honest work. Reading The Village Blacksmith brough wetness to my eyes. I will take a copy with me tomorrow for folks to read while others try my forge and anvil. Thank you for having the peom available.

  11. Rachael Conner says:

    this poem was written about the village smithy from the small town i grew up in and live in now. its a beautiful peaceful place called Hiram on the Saco river in the foothills. I do believe i know the hill and the spot he is speaking of the smithy working. his grandfather settled this town and its widely roomer d that it was written here.

  12. Lyell Thompson says:

    I went to a one room country school, in Oklahoma, from 1932 to 1938; when in the 7th grade I memorized this poem.

  13. Joe says:

    This is an especially cool poem because not only is it beautiful, but it relates directly to his life because as a child, Longfellow loved to watch the Village Blacksmith work.

  14. Pastor Jack Riffe says:

    My father was a blacksmith, and it seems that I can hear him hammering away on some piece of steel as he fixes something for someone. Also, he taught me the trade when I was a young boy, and I still remember how to do it.
    Longfellow is my favorite poet of all time. I used to read his “Wreck of the Hesperies,” if that’s the way to spell it. It is a poem about a ship lost at sea. would love to find a copy of it.
    But The Village Blacksmith will remain a favorite for me. Thanks to all for the “Precious Memories.”

  15. nic says:

    memorized in 5th grad eand loved it. Everybody should have to memorize this poem. It’s a heart felt poem that hasn’t lost it’s power to time.

  16. Jan says:

    Hmmmmm! To bad. Never had to memorize this poem of the blacksmith. My teacher had us memorize the 19th Psalm in 5th grade. I love the poem. Tells of an honest, hardworking, family man who apparently is widowed and raising his family alone. I have a picture hanging in my hall that is somewhat like the poem. Too bad the man in the picture is sawing wood with a cross cut saw.

  17. Sherry Ames says:

    Great poem, of a hard working man with values. I memorized this poem in an elementary school in Roswell, New Mexico. Its a piece of art, I have never forgotten. Been some forty years ago. Thanks, Sherry

  18. Kevin O'Brien says:

    This particular poem seems to be the most moving works I have read by him. To the untrained eye, it seems he talks only of his friend, which he’s describing as a blacksmith, but in reality he is speaking of a person who does his job, loves their family, and is commited to religion. He talks of the average working American.

  19. chicken says:

    i loved the poem, it reminded me of a chicken just like you

  20. Vasanth Srinivasa says:

    H.W.Longfellow has long been one of my favourite poets. His style encompasses thought and rhyme to perfection. This poem in particular, has always impressed me, for its deep insight into human existence. I concur with the poet when he says that ” Something Attempted, Something done, has earned a night’s repose.” This line embodies the basic tenet of life, why we struggle in the world every day, for at the end of the day it is to acheive contentment, which translates into a night’s repose. A beautiful thought indeed!

  21. matt butler says:

    very touching………NOT!!

  22. Jack Billows says:


  23. Jim Kerbey says:

    Am I wrong, or shouldn’t the poem read ” . . . with his HARD, rough hand he wipes a tear out of his eyes.” The word “haul” doesn’t seem right.

  24. David Neiswender says:

    I learned this poem sometime in the 1930’s. It always meant a lot to me because my paternal grandfather was a blacksmith. He died when I was five, but the poem seems to fit my few memories of him, especially the physical description. Good stuff! I have a painting by Paul Detlefsen which was obviously patterned after the poem: the blacksmith shop, the chestnut tree, the barefoot boy watching, the horse waiting to be shoed, etc. It’s one of my favorite paintings!

  25. Millie Pearson says:

    Just that it was a poem that seemed to mean something to my dade and he did share it with me in the 40’s when I was growing up. I believe Dad felt a kinship with the smithy. Beautiful.

  26. David McGovern says:

    You might be interested in this song about a blacksmith, by Jake Thackray. http://www.jakethackray.co.uk/content/view/106/26/

    Songwriter, yes, but his songs are pure poetry. The story comes from an anecdote told by Laurie Lee in his autobiography, Cider with Rosie.


  27. William Schaum says:


  28. Rob Chancey says:

    A short comment to Jerry Stork..yes Jerry, that picture does actually exist. My Mother had a copy as well as my Aunt. Both are gone today, and I wish I had one of them. Whether or not that particular picture was supposed to depict the image of “The Village Blacksmith” or not is unknown to me, however my Mom and Aunt seemed to indicate it was. Both my Aunt and Mother were lovers of such poetry as this.

    I also learned it as a school project..it was not assigned, but rather the class was asked to learn a poem over the Christmas Holiday..this would have been about 1941 or `42, some 60+ years ago. I will never forget the poems read after we came back to class..several of the quaint “Roses are red..Violets are blue” types, plus a few created by the individuals.. I recited The Village Blacksmith. The teacher was flabbergasted.. I believe this was the 4th grade.

    I had forgotten some of the poem stanzas, and came looking for a copy to refresh my memory. (Kind of dim now at age 75)LOL

  29. Jerry Stork says:

    After learning this poem in grade school, many, many years ago, I seem to remember a painting depicting that poem, showing the smithy at work in front of his barn shoeing a horse. There some adults and children watching him work. Of course all this was under a very large spreading chestnut tree! Is there such a painting, and is anyone familiar with it! I have a friend who is a farrier and I would love to get it for him!

  30. Dominique says:

    I learned this poem in 6th grade English class. My teacher made us stand up and recite it by heart. I learned it right away because I was able to connect to it. I am a big fan of this poem and of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in general. I am now a Junior in highschool and I still remember this poem word for word. I love it so much it has become a motto for me and it has also become the topic for my senior essay. I have analyzed this poem many times and each time it’s the same. I am going to college as a poerty analizer, please feel free to ask me about this poem if you’ve any questions. Thanks ~ Dominique

  31. cormac mac connell says:

    On this day, in County Clare in West of Ireland I talked to an 80-year old village blacksmith called Tom O’Sullivan working away at his anvil. Over the forge
    is a spreading chestnut tree! And the forge itself
    is on the edge of a beautiful townland(district) in Clare, beside the River Shannon, called Paradise,
    near the village of Ballinacally. Absolute Gospel truth!

  32. Kayte says:

    All I have to say is wow! The intricate detail!



  33. Bonnie Longfellow Hixson says:

    I learned this poem in Grade
    school also. Have always wondered if my family was a decendent of Henry. Only found out he had two sons the past year, so it is possible. Would like to know anyone who know the family tree?

  34. EM says:

    I guess I am not the only one who had to memorize this poem for school!!! I memorized it (with actions!) in fifth grade. I think it is VERY well written. I still can recite almost the whole thing. This poem will always hold many happy memories for me.

  35. Suzanne P. says:

    I work in a Nursing home, an 84 yr.old patient was reciting this poem to me and couldn’t remember the proper order of the stanzas. I looked this up on your website, will print it and take it to work on Mon. with me. Thank-you for helping to orient a wonderful man and to re-introduce me to this great poem.

  36. Jerry Schleeper says:

    When I received the Connecticut State Quarter, the chestnut tree reminded me of the poem and, like others, induced me to to go to the Internet to read it once again. I, too, had to recite the first t
    wo stanzas fom memory in grade school.

  37. joodie says:

    I absolutely abhor the awful layout of this poem. I would’ve put the first line after the third line and the fifth line after the ninth. Now that is just sad! You need to tell Henry Wadsworth to rewrite this awful piece of work.

  38. LENDA says:


  39. joe says:

    Hi, I’m a third generation blacksmith in Hamilton and never tire of this poem.
    As we live we shall be seen, as we’re seen we are judged,
    Honest toil aint the half of it, you can almost hear it all.

  40. Gersh Lundberg says:

    “hard”, rough hand not “haul”
    This is an old favorite of mine.

  41. crvkarma says:

    a very beautiful poem summarising the honesty and sincerity of common people like the blacksmith.

  42. L. Dale Dawkins Sr. says:

    I fine this poem to be one of the best ever, today a friend bought a book of the 100 best poem and this one was not in it, i guss it all depends on who doing the review, i learn this poem over 40 yrs ago and still remember most of it, will memorise it once more, LDD.

  43. Tom Ward says:

    I remember much of this poem from my childhood This poem has remained to help me understand a deeper meaning for existance. No person is perfect but the village smithy is a beautiful example for all people of what comes close.

  44. Joan Sapon says:

    My mother, age 93, called me and mentioned that something was really bothering her. She said she had to memorize this poem in school, and now she could only remember bits and pieces of it. This is why I came to your website. I printed the poem and will send it to her. Thank you. Joan

  45. Darnay says:

    Though there is till much prolem in completely understaning it. I have a balcksmith Uncle.
    So this poem somethimes soothes me.

  46. leon says:

    it is a beatiful poem and a symbol of a mans toil in this world. being a machine shop owner and blacksith by trade I can relate to the poem. Here is my problem.I am looking for a picture of the blacksmith in the header of this poem. I believe he is at the anvil inside the outline of his shop. any help would be great. thanks for your time! leon

  47. Margie says:

    I work in a nursing home and one of the residents has a “Village Blacksmith” picture in her room. She said that it reminds her of her father because he was a blacksmith. She remembered part of the poem but not all of it. I looked it up so I could read her the poem. I know it will mean alot to her. Thank you for having such a great website.

  48. Jeremy says:

    I have always enjoyed the old poetry, but this one has special meaning because I am a blacksmith and farrier. There is something satisfying in honest, hard work.

  49. Rodney says:

    i love that poem

  50. Jow says:

    this poem is amazing.

  51. The _Master says:

    Brings vivid images to my mind. Awesome imagery.



  53. Jill says:

    While doing my genealogy, I came across a personal letter to my aunt who did the genealogy for the entire family (being mormon and all). He remembered my great-grandfather who was a blacksmith in the town where Mr. Wadsworth grew up. Although the physical description was a bit off I think she was trying to convince the family this was her grandfather for sure. Interesting
    anyways. My great grandfather help build the conastoga
    wagons for the Mormons who left Illinois for Utah those
    many years ago. Finding the Mormons good and honest people he decided to join their church. They were marvelous men who stood up to the Indians. I feel lucky to have the hand-written letters from these people who of course are no longer with us.

  54. Joshua Langevin says:

    I love poetry about blacksmiths. My father is a blacksmith and shoes horses for a living, although he is getting older and can’t handle the labor as well as he once did. Reading poems such as this makes me see my father as more than a man, almost a myth. He has always been my hero, he lives in these verses as he lives in my heart: as a hero.

  55. Nancy says:

    I also had to memorize this poem, a difficult task for a very shy 6th grader who had to stand in front of Mrs. Miller’s class to recite it if I wanted to get an A. The words have come back to me countless times through the years. Thanks, Mrs. Miller, I’ve grown to understand and love the poem..but I still would not enjoy reciting it in front of a crowd!

  56. sammy jones says:

    I have recently met a person who shoes horses for a living. Today as I was talking to him, Ithought of this poem.
    I can’t tell you how many memories it brought back to me. We learned this poem in the 5th grade and I never forgot it. The poem spoke to me so much that a tear came to my eye. Life should still be so simple for us, but it is not. God and family should always come 1st in our lives, but sometimes the daily grind gets in our way. God forgive us.

  57. eliana says:

    doooodes this is an awsome poem i luv it i know it by memory!! hahaha byebye luv ya’lls im from texas too hehe

  58. Sue Souders says:

    My grandfather was a blacksmith in a little town in Texas many years ago. I’m in my late 60’s and have looked for this poem a long time. I’ve just recently gotten a computer and so glad I’ve found it. I also had to learn it in school.

  59. Joy says:

    As a small child,sitting on my daddy’s lap, he’d recite this poem.He was taught this poem in the 3rd grade in 1923. He never forget it. Then he taught to me and I’ve never forget. I can still hear him. He’s passed on now but what I’ll remember are the times I shared with him recited this poem. Now I’m passing it down to my children.

  60. Dr. Leslie R. Davis says:

    We had to memorize this poem in Mrs. Singleton’s 6th grade class in 1957. Needless to say from all of the comments above, this poem had made its impression on me and my entire life. God bless Mrs. Singleton who probably had the greatest single effect in my life.

  61. Eugene Maynard says:

    This poem was contained within a text book, I think – English Grammar, when I was in the Sixth Grade of elementary school. My teacher the year I attended this school did not require us to memorize the poem, but a playmate who attended the following year was required to do so. The teachers had changed. He was having a hard time with the memorization and I tried to help him. As a result, I became quite well acquainted with the poem, and came to love it. To my mind, it tells the story of a honest, hard working man who knows his trade and revels in his work. It teaches a good lesson to the young: There is great rewards personally in honest, sweat breaking, hard work. To my mind it is one of the great American poems from a great poet.

  62. ann j morton says:

    I have the original book of The Village Blacksmith Illustrated in excellent condition @ 1885 Does anyone know the value? Thanks, Ann

  63. Frank Goodman, SR says:

    It is with a bit of nastalgia that I read this and other poems that the last two generations do not know. My father and my maternal grandfather were blacksmiths. As a very young child I remember watching them work at the anvil and forge. I loved to see the sparks fly when the hot metal was first struck after being taken from the forge. My brother and I used to try to catch the sparks. I also imagined the fireflies at night to be the sparks from the forge of nature as the master smith struck the metal from which all existence is made. My mother was a school teacher who was one of those who required pupils to memorize the poem and others now long forgotten. Now I write poems of my own. Modern poets do not get the mood of poetry as I know it. They do not put enough latent images that must be developed by the reader.

  64. Daniel Gentile says:

    I just love that one 🙂
    it hangs on a wall in my Blade-&Blacksmith shop and every once in a while I reread it.

    I guess the poem has something that many a working man would apprciate.

    simply wonderful

  65. david briggs says:

    I first read this poem over forty years ago at school and still enjoy every word of it. Spread the good news.

  66. simon woods says:

    Ive never memorised it; I always associate it with the last ball of the day the blacksmith bowled for the village cricket team that won the game.
    Its a marvellous riposte to appalling late feminism and their deriding of men; it shows the courage, strength, experience of men and also perfectly illustrates the village or what we today understand as community. Its also poetry as history, vital, remembered and present with the words chosen for their fullness and strength. Poems are about words.
    Should be read to the late feminist as a lesson, and A Byatt.

  67. Alice says:

    The poem is wonderful for kids of all ages. I enjoyed it.

  68. Richard Robbins says:

    As a child growing up I heard this poem from both my mother and grandmother and also while in school as a boy I heard it several times. I liked the poem and read it from time to time but never really looked at it until one day while going through some papers in our family history and saw that the blacksmith that the poem is about is a far distant relative of mine. I mentioned this to my mother who smiled and we talked to my grandmother who smiled also and said that the poem was written the “Sipple” side of her family. Her maiden name is Sipple. Since then that poem has become more close to me over the years.

  69. Natalie says:

    I love metalworking, and every time I work I think of this. It is so beautiful – the plain imagery and the way that Longfellow can so simply tell a story that sums up so much of human existance. It’s an encouragement, like so many of his poems are, to work on and better ourselves. That message is just so beautiful…

  70. dan says:

    yeah, i read this peom and thought it was the wierdest thing ive ever read. and then i read a parody of it and found i liked the actual poem alot better… whatever…

  71. Keith says:

    I recently spent a few days in Hay-on-Wye (Powys, Wales) which is the book capital of Britain. This trip came a few days after a conversation with my Father and Grandfather about poetry they had memorised, which had been taught them by my Great Grandfather who it was acknowledged knew more still than they. This was one poem they both remebered fondly, and I was struck by the power of it, its lyrical strength and the spirit of continuity that I felt hearing generation after generation of my family knew it by heart. My family has not been highly educated in the past, though all those mentioned were intelligent men, they just grew up in age when education was restricted. Both my Grandfather and Great-Grandfather worked in the East End of London, mostly in East India Docks. I couldn’t find the poem in Hay-on-Wye, though it is a wonderful place. The combination of Google and this sight has led me to The Village Blacksmith, even though I only remembered the first line. A thousand thank-yous to whoever runs this sight, now I too can learn this, and pass it on.

  72. Alex Samaniego says:

    Overall, I really enjoyed this poem. I realy liked the aspect of taking such concern and pride over one individual, who normal is not set up on a pedstal. Also, the fact that Longfellow can show a “manly-man” hhas an emotional side is an apealling aspect

  73. Kyle says:

    This poem seemed a little wierd and erotic at the beggining. But then as I read on, my opinion changed. Although I cannot say I loved it, or even liked it to some extent. I can say that I related to the “everyday guy” picture. He just went through the same motions everyday. He did what he was expected, and was a moral citizen. I did not reach a clear understanding of what the theme was, but I can tell that this is a well-written poem. Enjoyable, that is skeptical.

  74. Amy says:

    This poem does very well at using descriptive imagery. I think it is a well- written poem. I love how you just picture the blacksmith in your mind. I heard this poem a few days ago for the first time and liked it a lot.

  75. Todd says:

    This poem is pretty cool. It just shows the normal life of some people. This guy is just doing what he needs to to stay alive. His mother is dead, but he still goes to church to stay in the swing of things.

  76. Sukiro says:

    This poem somewhat reminded me of Joe from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Even though the familial references don’t portray Joe, the imagery in the first three stanzas reminded me of Joe’s role as the village smithy. A “mighty man,” the “wet brow of honest sweat,” and working from morning till night in the forge. This poem has great imagery and illustrates a vivid picture of this village blacksmith.

  77. Ivan Romanove says:

    this poem is a great example of the fire-side poets of the 19th century. It shows how hard work and a spiritual life can help you get great rewards. “Something attempted, something done, Has earmed a night’s repose”.

  78. Luke von Lambert says:

    This poem is beautifullly representative of the fireside poets. It uses exciting vivid imagery to bring this imaginery blacksmith to startling life! It has nostalgic elements as well as he refers to the event in the third person

  79. Brittney says:

    I like the description in this poem. It forms really good imagery. My sophomore English teacher read this to us the other day, and i really enjoyed hearing it.

  80. Kendyll Robinson says:

    When I was in 6th grade my teacher, Mrs Hunter, said that we would have ot memorize this poem. There were a lot of moaning and groning, but most of us did it. To our surpise the poem was one of the bets we had ever read. We came to love this poem very much. So every day my teacher would read it to us before class and we would discuss what we thought the meaning of this poem was. Now that I am in collage my professor has assigned that we pick a poem and tell him what it means to us. When he said that I immediately thought of this poem and how much it meant to me.

  81. Jennifer Snell (Troy) says:

    My father, Nicholas Troy, born in Co Waterford Ireland, would often recite the poem, The Village Blacksmith, as a bedtime story. Although my father received very little formal education in Ireland, he had committed this poem to memory. The line I remember the best is ‘under the spreading chestnut tree.’ I did not know the actual title or the author until recently. One day, while on a trip to the UK, the line “under the spreading chestunt tree” came into my mind. Later that very same day, at a Scottish ruin there it was, “The Village Blacksmith” beautifully displayed. I was not by intent reading the poem; but the line, ‘under the spreading chestnut tree’ caught my eye. This was a very spiritual experience for me. There is no doubt that my father in heaven wanted me to know that the beloved poem was entitled “The Village Blacksmith, written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

    Jennifer Snell,
    Ottawa, Canada

  82. Alan B. Chisholm says:

    I have forged and Blacksmithed for the last 25 years, and have recited this poem many times, and the old-timers nod and agree. The young kids don’t understand. In this age of computers and throw-away items we forget how hard it was to work and forge out a living. I wish the kids of today could experiance just one week of the life of the old-time blacksmith. Then they might appreciate the life-style that is afforded them today.

  83. Karen Gater says:

    My fifth grade class (1949 – Salem In) was required to memorize this poem. How we moaned and groaned.

    As we were reading and rereading this poem our teacher, Mrs. Brooks would ask us questions. At first it was just a big task and Mrs. Brooks was just plain goofy. Ha!

    I don’t know about the rest of my classmates but I learned to love this poem and many other poems. Mrs. Brooks brought the Blacksmith alive. What a good man he was. Anyway, Mrs. Brooks where ever you are, and Im pretty sure you are looking down, THANKS!

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