The Children’s Hour

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1820) was a prolific poet who became famous during his lifetime, unlike many other poets.  One of his poems, “The Day Is Done,” I memorized twenty years back and still recite in my mind at night when I can’t fall asleep. I find poetry much more relaxing than counting sheep.

In his own autobiographical book, Clive Cussler relates an incident from Longfellow’s life. Delayed in New York by his editor, the poet rushed to to dock to catch the ship that would take him home. By the time he got to the pier, however, the boat was pulling away from the dock and a gap of several feet was between Longfellow and the deck of the ship. He almost could have jumped it, but didn’t.

That night the ship went down. (In his book Cussler explains what caused the disaster.) The next morning newspapers along the Eastern Seaboard carried the tragic story and when Longfellow’s family read it, they were grief-stricken. Henry himself was shocked and immediately sent his family a telegram to inform them he’d missed that fateful ride.

In my National Poetry Month verse for today, the poet shows in a unique way how he would always treasure his children.

The Children’s Hour

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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!

Micro Fiction With A Wink

One day I came across a writing challenge based on that poignant six-word story attributed to Earnest Hemmingway. I’ve heard some folks say he didn’t pen it, but I’ sure you know the one I’m referring to;
Baby shoes for sale. never worn.

I scribbled a bunch of lines down in a notebook — written as news headlines —and have just come across them again. Which story would you choose to read?

Beanstalk chopper fined after giant crash.

Summer flies south as autumn falls.

Cereal profits down: “Snap Crackle Pop” caught in crunch.

Deaf wife applauds husband’s musical attempts.

Lawn mower for sale: bought motor home.

Small kindness done cheerfully multiplies smiles.

Cleaning Up The Yard

from the earth they came
to earth the trees return
ashes in the wind

Yesterday morning there was no wind and the grass was sparkling with a heavy dew, a perfect morning for a little fire, so I worked for awhile at returning to earth all the dead branches the winter winds dropped around our lawn and all the trimmings we collected last summer and fall.

I enjoy sitting beside a small fire; it feels so cozy. And the idea always intrigues me, as I watch a fire devouring bunches of twigs and logs, how a whole tree can be reduced to such a small pile of ashes. Of course I must write a poem about this. 😉

Last year it was so dry in our area the RM (rural municipality) put on a burning ban all summer. Even at that our menfolks on the volunteer fire department were called out a number of times. This spring it’s been so dry here that we have to be very careful about fires. In fact, if things continue this way, we’ll likely have another all-summer burning ban.  I’ve been raking dead grass and there’s always debris on the lawn in spring, plus we have a pile of dead branches from the broken-off spruce tree. I’m glad for every opportunity to burn this stuff before summer comes and there’s standing crop nearby.

This morning I woke up feeling like I was hit by a truck: arthritis having its say, I guess. Plus I have to cook both meals at the seniors’ home today, so no fire even if we have another perfect morning for one. Some pain pills, toast and a cup of coffee, and I’ll be off to work.

I hope you’re enjoying a lovely day—or evening—and heading into a great weekend.