Are the Children at Home?

Original Text: 
"Are the Children at Home?" The Atlantic Monthly 20.121 (November 1867): 557-59.
1Each day when the glow of sunset
2        Fades in the western sky,
3And the wee ones, tired of playing,
4        Go tripping lightly by,
5I steal away from my husband,
6        Asleep in his easy-chair,
7And watch from the open doorway,
8        Their faces fresh and fair.
9Alone in the dear old homestead
10        That once was full of life,
11Ringing with girlish laughter,
12        Echoing boyish strife,
13We two are waiting together;
14        And oft, as the shadows come,
15With tremulous voice he calls me,
16        "It is night! are the children home?"
17"Yes, love!" I answer him gently,
19And I sing, in my quivering treble,
20        A song so soft and low,
21Till the old man drops to slumber,
22        With his head upon his hand,
25Home, where never a sorrow
26        Shall dim their eyes with tears!
27Where the smile of God is on them
28        Through all the summer years!
29I know! -- yet my arms are empty,
30        That fondly folded seven,
31And the mother heart within me
32        Is almost starved for heaven.
33Sometimes, in the dusk of evening,
34        I only shut my eyes,
35And the children are all about me,
36        A vision from the skies;
37The babes whose dimpled fingers
38        Lost the way to my breast,
39And the beautiful ones, the angels,
40        Passed to the world of the blessed.
41With never a cloud upon them,
42        I see their radiant brows:
43My boys that I gave to freedom, --
44        The red sword sealed their vows!
45In a tangled Southern forest,
46        Twin brothers, bold and brave,
47They fell; and the flag they died for,
48        Thank God! floats over their grave.
49A breath, and the vision is lifted
50        Away on wings of light,
51And again we two are together,
52        All alone in the night.
53They tell me his mind is failing,
54        But I smile at idle fears;
55He is only back with the children,
56        In the clear and peaceful years.
57And still as the summer sunset
58        Fades away in the west,
59And the wee ones, tired of playing,
60        Go trooping home to rest,
61My husband calls from his corner,
62        "Say, love! have the children come?"
63And I answer, with eyes uplifted,
64        "Yes, dear! they are all at home!"


18] all home: all gone to their graves (OED "home," sb., 4). Back to Line
23] tell: count. Back to Line
24] "Who dwell in the better land" (that is, who have died and have gone to heaven; OED "home," v.). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: