A Forge of repute was Sandy Gray’s

At Fort Road below Purdysburn Hill;

Where that Magician in steel and the shaping of iron,

Displayed the Blacksmith and Farrier’s skill.


Taking metal white hot straight out of the fire,

Held in tongs that were blackened and worn;

On the Anvil he’d hammer with sharpness of eye,

Heat and sparks he treated with scorn.


Whether axile or blade, pitchfork or spade,

He repaired and made them all;

The Farmer demented with yoke bent or broke.

Thought of Sandy and gave him a call.


Flat bar into hoops, their ends welded by fire,

Beat together until they were one;

Placed over cart-wheels down on the ground,

Shrunk by water is how it was done.


Tools he would temper in fire and in oil

With a touch on the old grinding wheel;

Making them sharp with a good cutting edge,

To test with his thumb he would feel.


Now pivotal gates were much to his taste

Along with scrolls and some fleur-de-lis;

Ironwork in the Church by the skill of his hand,

Remains there for all to see.


As a boy that Smithy was Heaven to me

With its bellows and fire so bright;

Six horses or more in a line to be shod,

Real horsepower, what a wonderful sight.


Now Sandy a man of temperate mood,

The Horse he could calm and entice;

He’d back up a Hunter with flight in its eye

And off its worn shoes he would prise.


I watched him manoeuvre with Pony and Shire

A fetlock raised up from the ground;

To bed it well in, a burning shoe to the hoof,

Then quenched, nailed and filed all around.


As a man I saw that Blacksmith Shop

With Sandy no longer there;

The fire it was cold at the heart of the Forge,

Where he had toiled with talent and flair.


The Anvil lay silent no longer to ring,

Sitting inside on the floor;

Implements from the past, some rusted and red,

Were propped to the side of the door.


That haven of quaint industrious skill

Is now superseded by time;

Remember the Maestro whose realm it was,

With his work and design sublime.


Monty Alexander 6.12.96




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