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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!


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Poet Bio

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Born in Portland, Maine, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow displayed an interest in linguistics at an early age, eventually teaching modern languages at Harvard. His idealistic poetry struck a chord with a young country sharply divided over slavery. Poems such as the narrative Evangeline and “Paul Revere’s Ride” made Longfellow the most popular 19th-century American poet. See More By This Poet

More By This Poet

The Light of Stars

The night is come, but not too soon;
  And sinking silently,
All silently, the little moon
  Drops down behind the sky.

There is no light in earth or heaven
  But the cold light of stars;
And the first watch of night is given
  To the red planet Mars. 

Is it the tender star of love?
  The star of love and dreams?
O no! from that blue tent above,
  A hero's armor gleams. 

And earnest thoughts within me rise,
  When I behold afar,
Suspended in the evening skies,
  The shield of that red star. 

O star of strength! I see thee stand
  And smile upon my pain;
Thou beckonest with thy mailèd hand,
  And I am strong again. 

Within my breast there is no light
  But the cold light of stars;
I give the first watch of the night
  To the red planet Mars. 

The star of the unconquered will,
  He rises in my breast,
Serene, and resolute, and still,
  And calm, and self-possessed. 

And thou, too, whosoe'er thou art,
  That readest this brief psalm,
As one by one thy hopes depart,
  Be resolute and calm. 

O fear not in a world like this,
  And thou shalt know erelong,
Know how sublime a thing it is
  To suffer and be strong.

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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