Search This Blog

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

U stands for Under,

The Village Blacksmith.     by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

UNDER the 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 watch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing floors.

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 hands he wipes
A tear out of his eye.

On 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 me my worthy friend,
For the lessons 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!

This is one of my favourite poems by H.W. Longfellow, a renown American poet, writer translator etc. He was  a man of many talents, and translated several of the classics from Latin into English including some of Dante`s works,
 He had a lot of sadness in his life including, losing his first wife after a miscarriage.
 He married again to Frances Appleton and was blissfully happy, they  had several children sadly, one of them died at an early age, this left him bereft.
 Then, even more tragedy struck, His wife Fanny accidentally set fire to her dress with a lit match, HWL tried to save her and was badly burned too.
She lived another day but just passed away in her bed.
You can read a lot of his sorrow in his poetry, it's almost as if he could foresee the future.
This, I feel,  reflects in the poem and song, known to me from childhood,' UNDERNEATH The Spreading Chestnut Tree' .
It has been rather difficult to use the letter U, just by reading the poem above I was amazed that there was only one word beginning with it, being UNDER!

My thanks to the UBIQUITOUS, dear, Mrs Nesbitt, Denise for devising ABCW and Roger for being a wise and fair UMPIRE of the series.


  1. Very moving.
    Wonderfully expressed.
    Have a great week!

  2. Anita,
    Thank you so much for your kind comments.
    I love to share my appreciation of wonderful prose,
    And, there's no better way to do it than on ABCW.

    best wishes,
    ABCW team.

  3. I most certainly remember learning this, (or trying to)


  4. It's always an eduction on abc week. Poetry, is a bonus.

  5. I have never been one to read poetry or learn about it but your love of poetry is contagious and I enjoy reading your posts that include poems. Always nice to open up one's mind to new things and new ideas, thank you!


  6. Reading this again after many years, I think I read it during my school days. Truly glad to read it up once more. :)
    Happy ABCW!

  7. Hi Roger, I imagine that not a lot of boys like poetry. I asked my husband if he knew the poem and he immediately recited the first line then couldn't remember the rest !
    Sounds a bit like you !

    Have a good weekend,

    Di xx

  8. Hi Jane, thanks for stopping by.
    Glad you find poetry a bonus, I just love it, particularly that which tells a story.

    Best wishes,
    Di x

  9. Hi Susan, good to hear from you, I'm glad you enjoy my poetry bits. I love it. I like to add pictures, purely my interpretation, of course,
    Best wishes,
    Di x

  10. Indrani, Thanks for stopping by and your kind comments,

    Best Wishes,

  11. Thank you so much for this beautiful poem! The poet's life had been a difficult one, and that makes his poetry very melancholy.
    Have a great week.
    Wil, ABCW team

  12. Great choice - a very imnage provoking poem....

  13. The opening lines of so few words instantly paint a whole picture. Interesting, as you point out, that that underneath the chestnut tree is never mentioned again. It was one of the poems my father could recite, alas I only ever remember the first verse.

  14. Love this poem. Have you noticed how many great artists, writers and musicians suffered from 'melancholia'?There is a connection and it is recognized by the mental health community. Very interesting topic to me. Some greatly talented people have refused treatment because they lose their extreme sensitivity and thus their gift.

  15. Hi Hildred,
    Thanks for your comments, and I agree with you, that it is an image provoking poem.
    Longfellow was such a lyrical writer and quite easy to understand.
    This certainly would appeal to the younger reader with a good imagination.
    Hence, most of us remember a lot of his works from our schooldays!

    Best wishes,

  16. Hi Joy, good to hear from you and thanks for your comments.
    Although it isn't written in the poem, perhaps the 'Spreading Chestnut Tree' 'spread' across church yard too where the Blacksmith's wife was laid to rest, hence the poignancy of the line...
    Just a thought !
    Best wishes,

  17. CHris J:
    Thanks for dropping by and your comments.
    You are quite right in saying that many talented people in 'the arts' suffer from melancholia, I immediately though of Van Gough and Beethoven.
    Best wishes,

  18. Hi Wil,
    Thanks for your comments.
    Ye Longfellow did have more than his share of sadness but I think he overcame it by his writing.
    I love 'Hiawatha' but far to long to use in a post !
    have a good weekend,
    Best wishes,

  19. Under Milkweed is another of our favourites! x

  20. Thank you for posting this Longfellow poem. I hadn't thought of it in a long time. :-)

    Undoubtedly a favorite! lol


  21. UNDER the spreading chestnut tree, used to teach this song to my students,

  22. Hi Flowerpot;
    Do you mean Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas ?
    You did say 'Milkweed'.
    I love Under Milk Wood, particularly with Richard Burton narrating. I loved his treacly voice, a classic!
    Hope you're feeling better,

    love Di xx

  23. Shady Gardner. Thanks for dropping by.
    This is why I've started introducing favourite poems to my blog because there's always something in prose that will evoke warm memories in most readers.
    Best wishes,

  24. ann nz:
    Thanks for dropping by, I remember singing the song and doing all the actions that accompanied it,
    when I was quite small.
    Golden memories.

    Best wishes,
    di xx


I usually like to reply to your comments but for some reason when i do post a reply it just diappears, any advice would be most welcome,Thanks Di x

Random Z's