This coming Sunday (the third Sunday in June) is Father’s Day! Happy Father’s Day to all homeschool dads everywhere!
In honor of this happy holiday, our homeschool poem-of-the-week for the third week of June is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Children’s Hour” (1863), which stars Henry’s three daughters: Alice Mary, Anne Allegra, and Edith. Longfellow was the most popular poet of nineteenth-century America, and one of the most popular around the world, and “The Children’s Hour,” which was once widely taught in American schools, is a good illustration of why that was so.
The scene of the poem is the study in Longfellow’s house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is now a National Historic Site that you and your students can visit someday on your homeschool travels around the United States. It is evening, and Papa Longfellow has been working at his desk.
The Children’s Hour
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!
What other wonderful words and poetical productions will you be studying in your homeschool this Hercules Term? 😊
❡ In the round-tower of my heart: If a special line or turn of phrase happens to strike you in one of our weekly poems, just copy it onto your homeschool bulletin board for a few days and invite your students to speak it aloud — that’s all it takes to begin a new poetical friendship and learn a few lovely words that will stay with you for life. 🏰
❡ Literary lives: The website of the Poetry Foundation includes biographical notes and examples of the work of many important poets (including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) that are suitable for high school students and homeschool teachers. ✒️
❡ Here, said the year: This post is one of our regular homeschool poems-of-the-week. Print your own River Houses Poetry Calendar to follow along with us as we visit fifty of our favorite friends over the course of the year, and add your name to our River Houses mailing list to get posts like these delivered right to your mailbox every week. 🗞