What kind of work did the village blacksmith do?  

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"The Village Blacksmith" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow doesn't really go into detail about the work of the blacksmith, because readers would have been familiar with it. Especially before mass production became common, the blacksmith would have been responsible for making and repairing most metal goods used in a village.

The typical process began with placing a metal bar in a special type of kiln known as a forge. Bellows (air pumps) were used (often operated by apprentices) to keep the interior temperatures of the forge hot enough to soften the metal. The smith would remove the softened metal from the forge using long, heavy metal tongs and place the heated metal on a flat surface called an anvil. The smith would then use a hammer and files to shape the metal. This was dangerous and difficult physical labor.

Blacksmiths made and repaired most common metal household and farm implements, including shovels, axes, plow parts, needles, and pots and kettles. They also made weapons for soldiers. Many blacksmiths also made horseshoes and would shoe horses.  

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The village blacksmith is the man who makes and shapes anything made from metal; for instance, he would shape horseshoes, make metal tools, and perhaps reshape anything metal that villagers would need. Most towns and villages in the nineteenth century would have had a reliable blacksmith because his job was a necessary one for the burgeoning country, especially during the Industrial Revolution.

In terms of Longfellow's poem, the village blacksmith does what one would consider an honest day's work: "His brow is wet with honest sweat, / He earns whate'er he can" (9-10). The blacksmith may not be the wealthiest man in the village, but he works: "Each morning sees some task begin, / Each evening sees it close; / Something attempted, something done, / Has earned a night's repose" (39-42). The blacksmith is a common man who is elevated to a hero's status in Longfellow's poem.

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