“The Children’s Hour”
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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!
I discovered this poem in a collection of poetry titled Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris. The pastel yellow book accompanies me most days to the homeschooling table and in the brief moments of quiet when my children are huddled over their work, I mark poems I would like to read-aloud to them or assign for their memorization work.
The collection is comprehensive (the book itself is almost 600 pages) and includes poems from authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter de la Mare, Christina Rossetti, Alfred Tennyson, William Shakespeare, Edward Lear, and J.R.R. Tolkien. The poems are divided into categories with playful titles like “My Almanac,” “It’s Fun to Play,” “Bird-watcher,” “From the Family Scrapbook, and “Almost Any Time is Laughing Time.” The double-page introducing each category is illustrated with attractive line drawings by the talented Leonard Weisgard. Since the poems themselves are not illustrated, the book is best for a graduating young reader who wants to digest more poetry or for reading-aloud to children of multiple ages.
I will not add this to my nursery classics booklist until I have read through it in its entirety, but I have a strong suspicion it will earn a place.
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