Poetry Friday: The Childrens Hour by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Betsy-Bee (age 10) is memorizing this poem by Longfellow. It reminds me of the way she and her sister, Z-Baby, treat their father. Engineer Husband is a very popular guy at our house.

BETWEEN the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!

Alice, Allegra, and Edith were Longfellow’s three daughters. About a year after this poem was written, in 1861, Longfellow’s second wife and the children’s mother, Fanny, was putting locks of her children’s hair into an envelope and sealing it with hot wax when her dress caught on fire. Longfellow, who was in the room next door taking a nap, was aroused and tried to put out the flames. He was badly burned in the process, and Fanny died the next day from her severe burns.

Sad story, but a delightful family poem.

A Celebration of Longfellow.

4 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: The Childrens Hour by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  1. I like the metaphor of the castle fortress. The poem reminds me of the hour before bedtime when kids sometimes run wild and don’t want to go to bed.

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