Longfellow’s Sound Beacon

The ringing sound of metal striking metal is distinctive. We hear, joined:

the solid strength that is the anvil;

the strength of motion delivered by the hammer

the strength of resistance in metal between hammer and anvil;

and, the determined alchemist, the blacksmith.

The ring of the metals is simple, real, necessarily constant, and earthy.  We are drawn out of our thoughts and analysis, right into the center of action, into the world of grit, sweat, work, focus, and the finite.

We are badly in need of a beacon, reminding us that action, almost any action is what we frequently need to break free of stuckness.  We need to start anywhere and just work.  Work enlivens us and leads us to where we need to go. It ends confusion and removes the troubles caused by wandering and slumbering.

Begin today and hammer away.  Hit hard and feel reality’s reverb in your arms, shoulders, and heart. Let go and strike fast, leaving no time for self-doubt or criticism to intervene. Feel resistance slowly move under your focus.

Hold in your ears the blacksmith’s beacon.

Under a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands; 
The Smith, a mighty man is he, 
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.
His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can
And looks the whole world in the face
For he owes not any man.
Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.
And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming furge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing floor.
He goes on Sunday to the church
and sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach.
He hears his daughter's voice
singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.
It sounds to him like her mother's voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.
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 life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought!
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


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