"Grave Alice, And Laughing Allegra, And Edith With Golden Hair"

Context: At nightfall the poet's children rush into his study and surprise him, and he compares this "attack" to the storming of a medieval castle. From the stairway and the hall, the children enter the "castle wall." Climbing over the poet's chair, they "devour [him] with kisses." But the father is a match for the "blue-eye banditti" who have "scaled the wall." He captures them in his "fortress" and vows to put them "down into the dungeon/ In the round-tower of my heart." To end the poem, Longfellow makes a tender vow to his children: "And there will I keep you forever,/ Yes, forever and a day,/ Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,/ And molder in dust away." The first stanzas of the poem reflect the Victorian love of idealizing family life:

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.