HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW was born in Portland, Maine, February 27, 1807. He was educated at Bowdoin College. After his graduation from college he spent several years abroad and upon his return to America held professorships of Modern Languages and Literature first in Bowdoin and later in Harvard College. When he moved to Cambridge and began his active work at Harvard, he took up his residence in the historic Craigie House, overlooking the Charles River-a house in which George Washington had been quartered at in 1775. At Cambridge he was a friend of authors Hawthorne, Holmes, Emerson, Lowell, and Alcott.
Longfellow was the poet who had spoken most sincerely and sympathetically to the hearts of the common people and to children. His poems were often of home-life, simple hopes, and of true religious faith. His best-known long poems are “Evangeline,” “Hiawatha,” “The Building of the Ship,” and “The Courtship of Miles Standish.” He made a fine translation of Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” Among his many short poems, “Excelsior,” “The Psalm of Life,” “The Wreck of the Hesperus,” “The Village Blacksmith,” and “Paul Revere’s Ride” are continuously popular. Longfellow was also known as the “Children’s Poet,” as his child-like spirit – affectionate, loyal, eager for romance and knightly adventure – in his poem “The Children’s Hour” helps to show.
Longfellow died in 1882. He was the first American writer who was honored by a memorial in Westminster Abbey.
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 molder in dust away!
Free Mini-Book – The Story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow can be downloaded for free here.
This beautifully illustrated classic book contains eight poems popular with children: “The Wreck of the Hesperus”, “The Village Blacksmith”, “Evangeline,” “The Song of Hiawatha,” “The Building of the Ship,” “The Castle-Builder,” “Paul Revere’s Ride,” and “The Building of the Long Serpent.”
This book for young readers presents one of the sweetest poems in the English language. Lang’s luminous illustrations perfectly capture the happy atmosphere of that house, the author’s affections for his daughters, and the painterly quality of his verse.
Longfellow’s tribute to the famous revolutionary hero begins with the stirring cadence that American schoolchildren have committed to memory for over a century. Now illustrator Ted Rand brings these vivid and beautiful lines to life as dramatically as the poet’s immortal message inspires.
A luminously illustrated collection of many childhood favorites, this lovely book also includes biographical information, some background on the selections, and definitions of unfamiliar terms.
Recite and/or memorize the poem:
Record what you learn about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on:
Practice handwriting skills with:
Analyze “The Children’s Hour” using:
Learn more about Longfellow’s home and complete:
For a tea time treat:
Smother your children with kisses, baking Magical Kiss Cookies together.
Extend Your Study:
You can extend your study of Longfellow by reading Prairie School by Avi, about a 9 year old boy who learns to read with the help of Longfellow’s poem, “Psalm of Life”, and completing the unit study with FREE Longfellow printables found here.