Software Nerd

Friday, February 24, 2006

Interpreting Poetry (and other art too)

An online friend, and general good fella, mentioned that he didn't like poetry so I sent him a few links and he liked the poems. Then, in a chat room, I sent him a link to Longfellow's children's hour. His reaction -- and that of another online pal -- took me by surprise. Since it was one I'd only found recently, I had to read the poem a few times after to understand what they could be talking about!

Here is the poem; what would be your one or two line summary?

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!


  • The poet is saying he will love the girls forever. The girls playfully attack him in his chair, like an army assaulting a fortress, and he says he has captured them in his heart forever. If there's anything deeper than that, I missed it.

    By Blogger Myrhaf, at 10:09 AM  

  • Yeah, I would say "Father dotes on his rambunctious children"

    By Blogger Jennifer Snow, at 1:08 PM  

  • Yes, that's exactly what I thought, and it was exactly why I presented it to two young guys telling men they didn't like poetry.

    I figured, "here is something simple, and fun".

    Later I will blog more about the reactions I received.

    By Blogger softwareNerd, at 5:06 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home