The Village Blacksmith Questions and Answers
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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What is the poet's message in "The Village Blacksmith"? Is this message relevant today?

The poet's message in "The Village Blacksmith" is that hard work and self-reliance are among the most important things in life. Longfellow holds up the eponymous character, who embodies these characteristics, as an example for us all to follow. The message is still relevant today, as hard work and self-reliance are often the best routes to success.

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Longfellow's "The Village Blacksmith" is an unabashed celebration of the dignity of hard work, self-reliance, and determination. His eponymous hero stands as a living embodiment of all the values that Longfellow so clearly venerates and which have been prized by successive generations of Americans.

Though the blacksmith may not be phenomenally rich, his hard work and self-reliance have brought him a high degree of independence that means, among other things, a sense of dignity that all too many people in the world, then as now, patently lack:

He earns what'er the can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

The village blacksmith is very much his own man as well as his own boss. He can look anyone in the eye, safe in the knowledge that he owes them absolutely nothing. In some respects, the blacksmith is living his own version of the American Dream, with all the freedom that that entails.

Although the kind of rugged individualism that was so highly prized in Longfellow's day is no longer much in fashion today, there's still something to be said for the poem's overriding message. Unless someone has the good fortune to be born with a silver spoon in his or her mouth, it's invariably the case that the kind of hard work, determination, and self-reliance displayed by the village blacksmith will be necessary to achieve success in life.

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