Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s 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 in 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!

Analysis, meaning and summary of the poem by

13 Comments

  1. Grace Edwards says:

    The opening lines of this poem have been re-playing in my mind today. I am 76 years old and fondly recall my mother reciting these lines, as she took a late afternoon break to read to us. Another line I recall her quoting was, “they folded their tents like the gypsies and silently stole away…” or something like that. Precious memories.

  2. Kathleen says:

    This morning my mother(92) told me she remembered part
    of this poem as she was waking up this morning. Her
    comment to me was memories are a wonderful thing.

  3. Joan says:

    I remember loving this poem in grade school, St. Timothy. Now as an adult it is the one poem that literally haunts me with it’s beauty, a father’s love for his three daughters. Depending on my emotions, this poem has the power to make me smile or bring me to tears. It’s my favorite!

  4. sylvie says:

    I’m dismayed that I came here and found that whoever posted this well-known poem did not bother to PROOFREAD it. And I’m the 10th person to comment and no one noticed?
    The fourth line, folks? Here it reads:
    “That is know as the children’s hour. ”

    The line is:
    That is KNOWN as the children’s hour.”

    I stopped there, hope that was it. Impressive that the site uses “paraphrasis” but I’d suggest it is more helpful, and respectful to get the words right to start with.

    It’s careless and doesn’t show respect. If you’re going to post someone’s work on the net – or quote it, or cite it, or use it – learn to proofread. What a shame.

  5. kurt says:

    As a little boy I remember me mother reciting this to me while tucking me in bed. Recently she passed and it was read by my brother at the service. I had forgotten all about it until I heard it again. It brought much comfort to me and many wonderful memories of my mother. Truly a timeless classic inspiration poem.

  6. Me says:

    This is the greatest poem ever! It is so sweet and I really enjoy this poem. I had to do a poetry project and this site really helped! Thanks!:)

  7. karen derolf says:

    First read this poem in 1958 when in grade school, loved it then love it now. such love!!! easy to read and understand.

  8. General Van says:

    A wonderful teacher “Ruth Funnell from Norfolk Va. read this and many other poems and stories one hour each day. I memorized this one, “The Village Blacksmith” The Arrow” and The Day is Done” Now, as a Granddad, I know the meaning of this wonderful poem, and the depth of feeling for Family and Life give us by HWL> I never tire of reading and reciting the poems which they ask for over and over again. Van

  9. Tara Schweyer says:

    I think that this poem is a enspiring poem because it teaches you to care for your loved ones and love them forever and a day. I teach you love

  10. Angela says:

    I was just looking up some poets and ran up on this poem. I remember my third grade teacher Mrs. Outland who had us to learn this poem and to recite it with feeling. Thanks Mrs. Outland for everything.

  11. Allle says:

    I think that this poem should be remembered by the way he veiws the time with the children and the way he says that he is in a kingdom and he is going to lock them in the dungean to keep the children with him forever.

  12. Terri says:

    We had to learn this poem in junior high school. Of course, its meaning back then was rather obscured by the rote of forced memorization. Rereading it in my later years, I realize how hauntingly beautiful this poem truly is.

  13. Doris Walker says:

    This is one of his most beautiful poem, along with Nature. How it moves my heart as i remember my grandchildren and my children.

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