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The Children's Hour

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American Romantic poet, was born in Portland, Maine, on February 27, 1807, and died on March 22, 1882. Longfellow moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts in December, 1836. He is considered a Fireside Poet, or part of a group of New England authors that wrote material very suitable to be read as entertainment to members of a family, often read aloud in front of a residential fireplace.

The Children's Hour was inspired by his three daughters.


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 rude hall stair, 
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegre, 
 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 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 sealed the wall, 
Such an old moustache 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 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.


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