Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(27 February 1807 – 24 March 1882 / Portland, Maine)

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Children


Come to me, O ye children!
For I hear you at your play,
And the questions that perplexed me
Have vanished quite away.

Ye open the eastern windows,
That look towards the sun,
Where thoughts are singing swallows
And the brooks of morning run.

In your hearts are the birds and the sunshine,
In your thoughts the brooklet's flow,
But in mine is the wind of Autumn
And the first fall of the snow.

Ah! what would the world be to us
If the children were no more?
We should dread the desert behind us
Worse than the dark before.

What the leaves are to the forest,
With light and air for food,
Ere their sweet and tender juices
Have been hardened into wood, --

That to the world are children;
Through them it feels the glow
Of a brighter and sunnier climate
Than reaches the trunks below.

Come to me, O ye children!
And whisper in my ear
What the birds and the winds are singing
In your sunny atmosphere.

For what are all our contrivings,
And the wisdom of our books,
When compared with your caresses,
And the gladness of your looks?

Ye are better than all the ballads
That ever were sung or said;
For ye are living poems,
And all the rest are dead.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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Comments about this poem (Children by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow )

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  • Michelle Claus (4/20/2014 11:33:00 AM)

    I agree with Longfellow's message. May our aging minds remain soft and dynamic, and not become hardened. (Report) Reply

  • Carlos Echeverria (4/20/2012 11:04:00 AM)

    New parents often say that having a child puts things in perspective...something Longfellow echoes in this poem.
    To hazard an answer to Mr. Pruchnicki's query: Longfellow's 'style and form' is so memorable simply because of the classic poetic techniques he employs; his rhyme and meter are used with precision and the music they create are like a hit top 40 single which keeps playing in our heads. (Report) Reply

  • Juan Olivarez (4/20/2010 2:37:00 PM)

    what can you say about long fellow that has not been said. in my humble opinion only lord tennyson surpassed him him in the fluidity of his words. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (4/20/2010 8:37:00 AM)

    Ah! to be young and innocent again! Romping and stomping through the forest green we go! Memorizing and reciting Longfellow's lyrics (when the teacher tells us to!) and disporting like lovers of the outdoors!

    Are you all in agreement with the poet then? Or to be more precise, with the speaker who is a creation of the poet who has dreamed up the whole mess he has entitled 'Children'? Sure enough, we all read Longfellow for his style and form, don't we? Can any of you cite what it is about his so-called 'style and form' that is so memorable? (Report) Reply

  • Adam Yaklin (4/20/2010 4:40:00 AM)

    In response to Kevin Straw. The dark before us is the unknown. While the desert behind us is before we have rooted as trees and sprouted our children/leaves. At least I think, thats how I took it. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (4/20/2010 2:52:00 AM)

    Bright side of Nature denotes happiness of children and the dull part of it is grown up old men! Without children where is cheers as sunny as Nature in the world? (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (4/20/2009 9:06:00 AM)

    Caught the spice of kids well. Like antennas, they capture the falling rains of life, like the leaves on the tree. Reflecting the present in the winds of changing times. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (4/20/2009 7:15:00 AM)

    The poem is too long for the idea it expresses. Also 'We should dread the desert behind us/Worse than the dark before.' What desert would be behind us? That would be when the children were alive. (Report) Reply

  • Gina Onyemaechi (4/20/2006 4:45:00 PM)

    Re-shaped into 'Childhood' by David Bates? That's two fantastic celebrations of the land of the young. (Report) Reply

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