The Forgers

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IN the smithy it began:
Let's make something for a man!
Hear the bellows belch and roar,
Splashing light on roof and floor:
From their nest the feathery sparks
Fly like little golden larks:
Hear each forger's taunting yell,
Tell us what we make, my master!
Hear the tenor hammers sound,
Ring-a-round, ring-a-round;
Hear the treble hammers sing,
Ding-a-ring, ding-a-ring;
Hear the forger's taunting yell,
Though the guess be right or wrong
You must wear it all life long!
How it glows as it grows,
Into something–is't a crown?
Hear them half in death with laughter,
Shaking soot from roof and rafter;
Ding-a-ring, ding-a-ring,
See them round the royal thing,
See it fade to ruby rose,
As it glows and grows,
Guess, they shout, for worse or better:
Not a crown!
Is't a fetter?
Hear them shout demonic mirth:
Here's a guesser something worth;
Make it solid, round, and fine,
Fashioned on a cunning plan,
For the riddle-reader Man;
Hear the bellows heave and blow:
Heat dries up their tears of mirth;
Let the marvel come to birth,
Though his guess be right or wrong
He must wear it–all life long!
Sullen flakes of golden fire
Fawn about the dimming choir,
They're a dusky pack of thieves
Shaking rubies from their sleeves,
Hear them wield their vaunting yell,
Forging faster–taunting faster–
Guess, my master–Guess, my master!
Grows the enigmatic thing!
Ruddy joyance–Deep disaster?
Ding-a-ring, ding-a-ring,
Is't a fetter–Is't a crown?

© Duncan Campbell Scott