THE CHILDREN'S HOUR
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(Born February 27, 1807; died March 24, 1882)
Between the dark and the daylight,
When the light is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the days' occupation
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 wall shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away.
*The Mouse Tower is a stone tower on a small island in the Rhine, outside Bingen am Rhein, Germany.
You can hear this poem being read by Urgelt just by copying and pasting this on Youtube: Urgelt reading The Children's Hour. My friends, I strongly urge you to not only read and listen to this sublime poem yourself, but to read such poems to your children, your grandchildren, introducing them to the rich world of the imagination through moving images and lilting rhythms.