The Children’s Hour is written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1860 and is a kind of love letter to his three daughters, Alice, Edith, and Anne. It describes how the children get the “victory” of the hour, and although they were supposed to be going to bed, “win” the affection of their father. Longfellow, while writing from the point of view of a loving father, creates a persona that he is in a castle or fortress and about to be attacked by his children. He puts up a fight, but it is the children who get the victory. The comparison of his house to that of a castle is actually rather appropriate. Longfellow had spent many happy hours writing on a cluttered desk by the south window of his beloved Craigie House, an imposing mansion still preserved on Cambridge's famous Brattle Street. It is in this house that most of the action takes place. It is there that his daughters come creeping down the stairs to attack the gentle poet in his lair. Longfellow was a devoted husband and father. Both of his marriages ended in sadness and tragedy. His first wife Mary Potter, of Portland, died in 1835; his second wife, Fanny Appleton, the great love of his life and the mother of his six children, died of burns from a terrible accident in 1861.
The Children's Hour
Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupation,
That is know 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!...