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 a flick
To beat real iron out, to work the bellows
Seamus Heaney's sonnet, "The Forge," is told from the point of view of a bystander watching a man work in an industrial atmosphere. The worker is most likely a blacksmith as the poem is titled "The Forge," and the intended audience is unclear. Seamus Heaney talks about the blacksmith and his workspace as an almost spiritual, holy atmosphere. He refers to it as "an altar" and "unicorn." The anvil is further a place where the blacksmith can "expend himself in shape and music." Also, the blacksmith is shown as a "leather aproned," grunting, and tough person, all associated with masculinity. Therefore, the poem can be seen to contrast the old and honorable profession of being a blacksmith with the radical, changin environment of the industrial environment.