I Remember The Bellows

Following on from my blog two days ago, ( ‘Fire, Forge and Furnace’ ) in which I attempted to place the work of the blacksmith in an historical context, I thought it may be the time to re-blog one of my very first published poems ( ‘I Remember The Bellows’ ), which described my introduction to the smithy, the blacksmith’s forge and, for me at the time, all its excitement and wonder.


I grew up a long time ago, on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, in a staunch Methodist household, the son of the village blacksmith and farrier.  Two abiding memories of my early years were . . .

1. on weekdays, of pumping the bellows to maintain the heat of the fire in his forge, and . . .

 2. on Sundays, of being concealed behind the chapel organ, pumping the bellows to maintain the air to the organ  pipes during the hymn singing.

 For good or ill, BELLOWS thus became a significant part of my childhood, and I recently recalled these formative experiences in the following, light-hearted verses.




Arms activate,  
Biceps bulge. 
I remember the bellows. 
Let my memory indulge. 


 The forge and the furnace  
The farrier’s tools.
His anvil, his hammers,
His tongs and ferrules.

 I build up the heat
Till the iron is blood-shot,
And molten and moulded –
Into what shape I know not. 


The pipes and the console
The organist’s tools
His feet and his fingers
Obey all the rules.

 I build up the wind
In the pipes till they sound
Out their diapason
To all those around.


 So, it’s weekdays the smithy
And Sundays the Chapel.
A slave to them both,
And all that for an apple.

 Whilst I labour discretely,
And pump up and down,
They can’t do without me –
Best  aerator in town.



4 thoughts on “I Remember The Bellows

  1. I do love your poem Roland, it is strong and tangible. I can see the life in a village among those beautiful moods; the hard work of the boy and yet his belonging to the family and village. Pride coupled with ……enough bellowing now.:)
    At least you got an apple.🌈 .

    You grew up in a very beautiful area and an inheritance like that will always live inside wherever you are. A strict milieu I grant as I know some of this from my own childhood.
    Religious sects can be very controlling but we grow to question some and keep the best.


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  2. This is most interesting to me Roland and I would love to hear more of your history if the fancy ever takes you, Your snippet about being a Blacksmith’s son had me thinking all day, I thought that to be the son of such an important and respected man, in a village community, must have been something.

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