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 moulder in dust away!


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