Monday, February 27, 2017

Longing for Longfellow.

I had intended to take the day off today--I am in Boston with my eldest daughter--but work reared its ugly rear.

So I am sitting in a hotel room (a nice one) waiting for my colleagues to arrive. Then we will spend the next 48-hours or so banging our thumbs with hammers.

However, through the fastidious good graces of my wife, we did have an hour this morning off the clock. We drove to Cambridge and visited the great poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's house.

Longfellow lived there in the 1840s through the end of his life. And wrote those poems I had bludgeoned into me as a child within the house's well-appointed four walls. "Paul Revere's Ride," "The Village Blacksmith," and one of my old-man's favorites, "The Children's Hour."

In a previous incarnation, the George Washington had made the house his headquarters during the Siege of Boston in 1775 and 1776.

There was a lot of history and lore there.

Of course, while sightseeing, my phone was ringing off the hook like a drop of water on a red-hot griddle.

There's no rest for the wicked.

Maybe I'm too much like Longfellow's Village Smithy.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 1807–1882
59. The Village Blacksmith

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         5
  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,  10
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  15
  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;  20
They love to see the flaming forge,
  And hear the bellows roar,
And watch the burning sparks that fly
  Like chaff from a threshing-floor.
He goes on Sunday to the church,  25
  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.  30
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  35
  A tear out of his eyes.
  Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
  Each evening sees it close;  40
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  45
  Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
  Each burning deed and thought!

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