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The Forge
by [?]

However, there they lounge about,
The grim, gigantic fellows,
Hardly hearing the storm without,
That makes so very dreadful a rout,
For the constant roar
From the furnace door.
And the blast of the monstrous bellows!

Oh, what a scene
That Forge had been
For Salvator Rosa’s study!
With wall, and beam, and post, and pin,
And those ruffianly creatures, like Shapes of Sin,
Hair, and eyes, and rusty skin,
Illumed by a light so ruddy
The Hut, and whatever there is therein,
Looks either red-hot or bloody!

And, oh! to hear the frequent burst
Of strange, extravagant laughter,
Harsh and hoarse,
And resounding perforce
From echoing roof and rafter!
Though curses, the worst
That ever were curst,
And threats that Cain invented the first,
Come growling the instant after!

But again the livelier peal is rung,
For the Smith, hight Salamander,
In the jargon of some Titanic tongue,
Elsewhere never said or sung,
With the voice of a Stentor in joke has flung
Some cumbrous sort
Of sledge-hammer retort
At Red Beard, the crew’s commander.

Some frightful jest–who knows how wild,
Or obscene, from a monster so defiled,
And a horrible mouth, of such extent,
From flapping ear to ear it went,
And show’d such tusks whenever it smiled–
The very mouth to devour a child!

But fair or foul the jest gives birth
To another bellow of demon mirth,
That far outroars the weather,
As if all the Hyaenas that prowl the earth
Had clubb’d their laughs together!

And lo! in the middle of all the din,
Not seeming to care a single pin,
For a prospect so volcanic,
A Stranger steps abruptly in,
Of an aspect rather Satanic:
And he looks with a grin at those Cyclops grim,
Who stare and grin again at him
With wondrous little panic.

Then up to the Furnace the Stranger goes,
Eager to thaw his ears and nose,
And warm his frozen fingers and toes–
While each succeeding minute,
Hotter and hotter the Smithy grows,
And seems to declare,
By a fiercer glare,
On wall, roof, floor, and everywhere,
It knows the Devil is in it!

Still not a word
Is utter’d or heard,
But the beetle-brow’d Foreman nods and winks,
Much as a shaggy old Lion blinks,
And makes a shift
To impart his drift
To a smoky brother, who, joining the links,
Hints to a third the thing he thinks;
And whatever it be,
They all agree
In smiling with faces full of glee,
As if about to enjoy High Jinks.

What sort of tricks they mean to play
By way of diversion, who can say,
Of such ferocious and barbarous folk,
Who chuckled, indeed, and never spoke
Of burning Robert the Jaeger to coke,
Except as a capital practical joke!
Who never thought of Mercy, or heard her,
Or any gentle emotion felt;
But hard as the iron they had to melt,
Sported with Danger and romp’d with Murder!

Meanwhile the Stranger–
The Brocken Ranger,
Besides another and hotter post,
That renders him not averse to a roast,–
Creeping into the Furnace almost,
Has made himself as warm as a toast–
When, unsuspicious of any danger,
And least of all of any such maggot
As treating a body like a faggot,
All at once he is seized and shoven
In pastime cruel,
Like so much fuel,
Headlong into the blazing oven!

In he goes! with a frightful shout
Mock’d by the rugged ruffianly band,
As round the Furnace mouth they stand,
Bar, and shovel, and ladle in hand,
To hinder their Butt from crawling out,
Who making one fierce attempt, but vain,
Receives such a blow
From Red-Beard’s crow
As crashes the skull and gashes the brain,
And blind, and dizzy, and stunn’d with pain,
With merely an interjectional “oh!”
Back he rolls in the flames again.