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The Children's Hour

C. S. Lewis once said, “Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives.” How true this is! Only when there is true love and affection can a family have a lasting bond. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow shows the value and joy that comes from the love of a father to his children in his poem The Children’s Hour. He draws the reader into a poem that honors God and is relatable to real life. Because the charming poem "The Children's Hour" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow engages the reader, is glorifying to God, and applicable to life, it is a good poem.

First, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow engages and interests the reader through his use of tone and language. The image depicted in this poem has a mysterious and eerie tone to it when the author writes, “[b]etween the dark and the daylight / When the night is beginning to lower.” (lines 1-2) With the focus on darkness and the beginning of night, one can imagine that something unexpected is about to happen. The writing piques the interest of the reader, making him want to find out what is about to happen. But then, as the poem continues, the tone changes into a lighter and sweeter one:


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.
The sudden change in the tone of the piece surprises the reader while still keeping him wondering what will happen next. While the first two lines describe the end of the day and the beginning of darkness, this stanza shows the charm and tenderness of youth. Additionally, throughout the poem, the eloquent language grabs and keeps the reader’s attention. Reading about “[a] sudden rush from the stairway / A sudden raid from the hall,” one can almost see what is happening through the author’s imagery. With his rich language, he paints a clear and distinct picture of the little girls rushing towards their father. Because of the change of tone in the poem, and the picture the author is able to paint, this poem will draw in the reader from the beginning.

Second, because Longfellow shows how much he loves his daughters in “The Children’s Hour,” the poem is God-glorifying. The love of a father to his children is a wonderful gift from God. In this poem we can clearly see that this love is strong and eternal, a reflection of God’s love of us. The author describes his love for his daughters as a strong fortress:


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.

Just like the figurative dungeon, the love of a father is so strong that nothing can be done by the child to remove the child from the father’s love. This is like God’s love towards his children. Nothing we do will ever keep Him from loving us, and so in this way, God is glorified by this description of a father’s love. Longfellow also describes his love for his girls as eternal: “And there will I keep you forever / Yes, forever and a day.” True love will stand the test of time. Psalm 136:2 says “Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.” It will not end after a month, a year, or even a lifetime. God is glorified by this description of the true, eternal, and strong love a father has toward his daughters.

Finally, this poem’s applicability to life makes it a good poem. Because this poem shows a special bond between the father and his children, many readers are able to relate to this poem through the special affection and love they feel towards their parents. What a joy it is for younger children to be with their parents. The author shows the affection little children love to shower upon their parents when he writes, “[t]hey almost devour me with kisses / Their arms about me entwine.” Many readers can recollect times when they would run up to parents and shower them with hugs and kisses. It is good to remember the delight of such times, maybe after a long trip, when the parent has finally come back. In this way the reader will know how the little girls and their father are feeling. The reader can also apply this poem to everyday life in the routine the girls and their father go through every night. The author writes, “[c]omes a pause in the day's occupations / That is known as the Children’s Hour.” Most children have had a bedtime routine they would go through with a parent every night. For some, the parent reads a bedtime story before sleep, for others, it can be as simple as a kiss good night. Whatever it is, the reader can look back to her childhood and remember that simple and cherished routine. This poem refreshes memories in a sweet and touching way.

Every day of our life we are bombarded by problems that we have to solve and jobs that we have to do. As our life rushes by us, we forget to stop and take time to value the things that really matter; your friends, your faith, and your family. In the Children’s Hour, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow reminds us that time spent with family is a precious gift from God, and that a father’s love, and more importantly, God’s love, will last forever. Since this poem draws in the reader, glorifies God, and allows the reader to apply it to his life, The Children’s Hour shall be passed down from generation to generation.



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