All I know is a door into the dark.
Outside, old axles and iron hoops rusting;
Inside, the hammered anvil’s short-pitched ring,
The unpredictable fantail of sparks
Or hiss when a new shoe toughens in water.
The anvil must be somewhere in the centre,
Horned as a unicorn, at one end square,
Set there immoveable: an altar
Where he expends himself in shape and music.
Sometimes, leather-aproned, hairs in his nose,
He leans out on the jamb, recalls a clatter
Of hoofs where traffic is flashing in rows;
Then grunts and goes in, with a slam and flick
To beat real iron out, to work the bellows.
From the book: Door Into the Dark by Seamus Heaney
Copyright: 1966, 1969, 1972, 1975, 1980 by Seamus Heaney
author bio: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/seamus-heaney
photo: Jackie Nickerson