The Children’s Hour

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!

Summary of  The Children’s Hour

  • Popularity of “The Children’s Hour”: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a great American poet, and educator, wrote ‘The Children’s Hour’. It is a wonderful poem about family love. It was first published in 1860. The poem speaks about the speaker’s undying love for his daughters. It also illustrates how the speaker is spellbound with pleasure when they attack him with love. The poem tells about a family bond and its importance in life.
  • “The Children’s Hour” As a Representative of Love: This poem is an expression of  When the speaker is sitting in his study, as every day, he takes a sweet pause from his work routine to have a special hour called the children’s hour. He hears the pattering of little feet along with the soft and sweet voices of his daughters, Alice, Allegra, and Edith who are going to break in. Also, he hears a whisper that they are going to give him a surprise. Soon, the children approach the hallway and enter his room.
    As soon as they enter the room, they surround him so he cannot escape, and they climb on his chair, too. Out of unconditional love, they devour him with warm kisses and relates him to the Bishop of Bingen. The speaker, putting his work aside, plays a sort of castle game with them, and receives them wholeheartedly. There is always warmth and love in the presence of family.
  • Major Themes in “The Children’s Hour”: Family love, care, and childhood are the major themes of this poem. Throughout the poem, the speaker keeps on mentioning the children’s hour to show that when that special hour approaches, he has to put her all worldly pursuits aside, and express his attachment and love for his children. The speaker discusses in detail how innocently his daughters attack him with love and make him feel how important he is in their lives. In response to their love, the speaker also opens up his heart for them and makes that Children’s hour very special for them.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “The Children’s Hour”

Literary devices are tools that the writers use to create deeper meanings in their texts, convey their emotions, feelings, and ideas to the readers. They can also make the poems lifelike and connects the readers with the real message of the text. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow has also used some literary devices in this poem. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /oo/ in “But put you down into the dungeon” and the sound of /i/ in “Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen.”
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession such as the sound of /p/ in “They are plotting and planning together” and the sound of /b/ in “Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti”.
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example,

“But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “Comes a pause in the day’s occupations”, “But put you down into the dungeon” and “Such an old mustache as I am.”
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects or persons different in nature. For example, “But put you down into the dungeon”. Here he compares his ear with the dungeon.
  3. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings different from literal meanings. Dungeon symbolizes the speaker’s heart.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “The Children’s Hour

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “feet/sweet”, day/away”, “stare/hair” and “eyes/surprise.”
  2. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here, each stanza is a quatrain.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABCB Rhyme scheme, and this pattern continues until the end.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are ten stanzas in this poem with each having four verses.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful for an adventurer to describe his past experience.

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.”