Context: In the first half of the poem we see the strength, independence, and honesty of the blacksmith; in the last half we see his tenderness and family devotion. "He goes on Sunday to the church,/ And sits among his boys." As "the village choir" sings, the sound of his daughter's voice fills him with joy and with sadness, for "It sounds to him like her mother's voice,/ Singing in Paradise." As he thinks of his deceased wife, the strong man "wipes/ A tear out of his eyes." Longfellow draws a Victorian moral in the last two stanzas. We must go through life with an awareness of our duties, and we should finish each task we begin. The blacksmith becomes a symbol for the highest ideals of the human race:
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 lifeOur fortunes must be wrought;Thus on its sounding anvil shapedEach burning deed and thought.