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‘The Forge’ is a sonnet with a clear division into an octave (the first 8 lines) and a sestet (the final 6 lines). While the octave, apart from its initial recommendation to the storyteller, focuses exclusively on the inanimate things and occurrences inside and outside the create, the sestet explains the blacksmith himself, and what he does. Heaney begins with the line All I know is a door into the dark. This can be interpreted as the blacksmith getting out of reality; into the lack of knowledge of darkness.
As he steps through the door it brings him back in time through his memories, as can be seen in the next line as he goes on to tell of the old axles and iron hoops rusting outside.
The adjectives old and rusting develop the impression of age; that they have actually been impacted by time. Heaney depicts the scene inside the hammered anvils short-pitched ring … He wishes to portray to the reader what a true create resembled.
Also, he creates the idea that the anvil was necessary and vital in metal production by explaining the anvil as hammered. The author tries to show to the reader how useful and, in turn, well used it was. The unpredictable fantail of stimulates … Heaney utilizes this line to contrast with the order these days’s manufacture which is quite the opposite of his idyllic memory. He attempts to encourage the reader that the forge, when in the height of its success, was a picturesque and practically ideal entity.
Hiss – Heaney uses the literary gadget of onomatopoeia throughout the poem. This is incredibly effective and, maybe, unique in its ability to incorporate the acoustic sense into any piece of literature. This also portrays the noisy, hectic environment of the forge. Additionally, he uses hard and sharp vowels and consonants to enhance the impression of authenticity. Another literary device used by Heaney is that of sibilance; this includes to the realism of the poem. Additionally, using the word toughens develops the impression of firmness and hardness. This is insulting cheap, contemporary autos and other such mass-produced products by contrasting them with the toughness, dependability and individuality of those produced in the create.
The following line The anvil must be somewhere in the centre, is added to explain the importance of the anvil in the blacksmiths work. Heaney goes on to further depict the anvil Horned as a unicorn. The mythical reference emphasises and praises the blacksmith, whilst this simile also represents strength and incorruptibility.
Heaney’s ensuing line Set there immoveable an altar is phenomenally effective. The punctuation, in this case a colon, creates a pause which is critical in concocting the climax of the piece. The metaphor an altar portrays the reverence which it is to be viewed with; it immediately makes the anvil appear holy. The blacksmiths profession is Godlike and his everyday tasks become religious acts The blacksmith expends himself in shape and music at this anvil, the art of poetry is compared to that of the blacksmith. This shows the creativity involved in his profession.
Realism is furthered in the proceeding line Leather-aproned, hairs in his nose. Heaney attempts to personalise the blacksmith by adding unimportant details of his appearance.
Recalls a clatter of hoofs… The blacksmith obviously does not welcome many customers and so he reminisces about the forges thriving past. Heaney describes modern traffic as flashing in rows. He embraces the romantic image of a bygone era but views modern traffic with contempt. His whole profession is automatically opposed to this; the shoddy tin of todays automobiles contrast with the toughness of the iron produced and manipulated at the forge. Earlier in the poem, Heaney depicted the unpredictable fantail of sparks. These are now compared to the rows of modern traffic; stereotyped vehicles and a lack of individuality.
The blacksmith then grunts and goes in. This onomatopoeia shows his disgust, the next lines further this impression as he enters with a slam and a fick to beat real iron out, clearly showing his anger and rage in this aggressive behaviour. The fact that he states that he will be beating real iron out further describes his distaste towards the cheap, flimsy production of today as opposed to what he considers to be real iron; that produced in the forge. The final line to work the bellows portrays the manual necessity in the forge, again contrasting with modern, robotic production.
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