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ALL the noises of the village
   With the evening have grown still,
Save the tinkling and the clinking
   In the smithy on the hill.
As I sit before the fire-light,
   In a dreamy sort of doze,
Hearing, yet not listening to it,
   The rhythm of the blows
On the distant anvil ringing
   Throbs and murmurs in my ears,
And I’m borne away in spirit
   O’er the intervening years;
And I stand before a smithy,
   In the goodly coming time,
And I weave there in the spirit
   This little web of rhyme.
Cling! clang! cling!
   The merry clamor
Of the big and little hammer,
   How they ring! ring! ring!
With their cling! clang! cling!
   As they beat the glowing bars
Lo! the white sparks fly about,
   Like a troop of shooting stars—
Seen a moment, and then out.
   And the panting of the bellows,
And the roaring of the fire,
   As the smiths—great, stalwart fellows—
With arms that never tire,
   Drag the metal, hot and red,
From its glowing, fiery bed,
   And with many a sounding blow
They beat it and they heat it
   Till the yielding bar doth grow
Into something that will wear
   On the form that it will bear
The exalted crown of use.
   I draw near the ringing anvil,
Where the brawny muster stands,
   And I see the shapeless metal
Taking beauty from his hands;
   And I say, “My worthy master,
Thine’s a craft I love to see,
   I would have some token of it,
Pray you, forge a sword for me.”
   The master raised his head,
As he heard the words I said.
   Big hands were rough and horny,
And his figure rude and large,
   And his forehead black and grimy
With the coal-dust of the forge;
   But I saw his great white spirit
Lighting up his swarthy face,
   As a burning taper lighteth
up a costly porcelain vase;
   And he said, “Good friend, whence come you,
That you ask a thing so vain?
   Know you not the heavens are opened,
And our Lord hath come again?
   Yea, ’tis true, good friend and neighbor,
I will forge you, if you choose,
   Any instrument of labor,
Any implement of use.
   But the dreadful tools of warfare
Are with us forgotten things;
   We have bent them into plow-shares
That the goodly harvest brings.
   So we forge the sword no longer,
Nor yet any arm of strife:
   We’ve a better use for iron
Than to bore out human life.
Neither cannon, gun, nor musket,
   Neither lance nor pike we make;
Neither bar, nor bolt, nor fetter
   Will we forge for Jesus’ sake.
We no more have need of these
   To protect our hearth and home;
For the world is full of peace,
   Now the Prince of Peace hath come.”

lexington, georgia.

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November 1862

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