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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.

           Toiling, -- rejoicing -- sorrowing,
                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.

 

Snow, by Carol Ann Duffy

Then all the dead opened their cold palms

and released the snow; slow, slant, silent,
a huge unsaying, it fell, torn language; settled,
the world to be locked, local; unseen,
fervent earthbound bees around a queen.
The river grimaced and was ice.

               Go nowhere-

thought the dead, using the snow-
but where you are, offering the flower of your breath
to the white garden, or seeds to birds
from your living hand. You cannot leave.
Tighter and tighter, the beautiful snow
holds the land in its fierce embrace.
It is like death, but it is not death; lovelier.
Cold, inconvenienced, late, what will you do now
with the gift of your left life?

 

FOUR QUARTETS

Click on the image to read the poems

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