From Portland to Cambridge

"The Children's Hour," from Poems from Birds of Passage. Autograph manuscript, [1859]


Longfellow Papers MS Am 1340 (128). Houghton Library.  

One of Longfellow's best-known poems, it offered the American public a glimpse into the poet's private life, describing his close and playful relationship with his daughters Alice, Edith, and Anne Allegra ("Annie"). Longfellow's use of the old German legend of the greedy Bishop Hatto, who is eaten by mice that invade his tower, adds a more sinister-if still humorous-undertone to this story of a father's love for his children. The manuscript contains a stanza Longfellow omitted in the published version: "They do not know I am watching, / That every motion I mark, / For they in the light are standing, / And I am hid in the dark."