The Children's Hour

Original Text: 
The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, with Bibliographical and Critical Notes, Riverside Edition (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1890), III: 64-65. PS 2250 E90 Robarts Library.
1Between the dark and the daylight,
2    When the night is beginning to lower,
3Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
4    That is known as the Children's Hour.
5I hear in the chamber above me
6    The patter of little feet,
7The sound of a door that is opened,
8    And voices soft and sweet.
9From my study I see in the lamplight,
10    Descending the broad hall stair,
12    And Edith with golden hair.
13A whisper, and then a silence:
14    Yet I know by their merry eyes
15They are plotting and planning together
16    To take me by surprise.
17A sudden rush from the stairway,
18    A sudden raid from the hall!
19By three doors left unguarded
20    They enter my castle wall!
21They climb up into my turret
22    O'er the arms and back of my chair;
23If I try to escape, they surround me;
24    They seem to be everywhere.
25They almost devour me with kisses,
26    Their arms about me entwine,
28    In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!
29Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
30    Because you have scaled the wall,
31Such an old mustache as I am
32    Is not a match for you all!
33I have you fast in my fortress,
34    And will not let you depart,
35But put you down into the dungeon
36    In the round-tower of my heart.
37And there will I keep you forever,
38    Yes, forever and a day,
39Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
40    And moulder in dust away!


11] Longfellow's three daughters, of whom Edith came second and may have been the subject of Longfellow's "There was a little girl." Back to Line
27] In a 10th-century legend, Bishop Hatto, archbishop of Mainz, was driven by a horde of mice to his Rhine castle, Mäuseturm, and consumed by them there in revenge for his burning to death of a group of poor people so that the rich would have more food in a time of famine. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863)
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2000.