How I learned Longfellow.

In my 5th Grade class each of us pupils must memorize a poem; our teacher gave us suggestions and I liked the look of this one. It was the first poem I ever paid that much attention to or learned “by heart,” and it is a sweet one to be laid down as a foundation stone.


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!

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

9 thoughts on “How I learned Longfellow.

  1. This is a great poem. I’m trying to learn Daffodils at the moment, but only when I visit my Father-in-law up north. Previously, I learnt Jabberwocky. I do like doing so!


    1. Kezzie, I just looked up Daffodils and it seems well worth committing to memory – you will be all ready for springtime when the flowers pop up! Jabberwocky is wonderfully fun; do you have to practice it occasionally to keep current with it?


  2. Brings tears to my eyes, as I look fondly back to the years of reading aloud to kids and grandkids that filled me with delight to be the “voice”of many great authors for them, teaching another generation the love of books and filling my heart with love of my listeners. Nothing is so personally delightful as reading aloud! Thank you for sharing!


    1. I so agree, Leslie, about nothing being so “personally delightful.” One idea I have for the future is to offer my services as a “reading Grandma” to families in my church, since my own grandchildren don’t live near enough for me to get enough of that fun with them.


  3. For me it was “Sea Fever” by John Masefield. Odd, since I lived in the interior and knew nothing about the ocean from personal experience. Now here I am, living so close to the water, on an island, and enjoying the wonders of boating on the ocean. Perhaps that 5th grade poem was a portent of things to come.


    1. Lorrie, that is a fun poem that I’d never read before. I love the way the rhythm of the lines seems to jump back and forth, like the rocking of the waves followed by the blowing of the wind. And I can see how it was prophetic of your life to come!


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