Why does the poet thank the blacksmith towards the end of the poem?

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The speaker of the poem thanks the village blacksmith at the end of the poem for the life lessons this humble man has taught him. The blacksmith has modeled for the speaker the value of working hard so that one can support oneself and not need to "owe" any another person. This allows the blacksmith to look other people in the face without shame. The blacksmith is also a good family man who is raising his children to be Christian, just as he is. He sits among his boys at church on Sunday, and his daughter sings in the choir. He is widowed, but while he mourns his wife, he soldiers on, doing his blacksmithing work, and when not occupied with that, raising his children or performing another useful task.

The speaker finds the blacksmith a role model for hard work, good parenting, and Christian living, and so he thanks him.

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