The Day Is Done

The Day Is Done Themes

The Power of Poetry

After a long day of toil, the narrator wants nothing more to be at home where his companion will read him a simple and heartfelt poem. He does not speak of sleep or children or food or prayer; it is only poetry that can soothe his restless spirit. This is a powerful statement about poetry's ability to feed the soul, for poetry is not just pretty or diverting—it can also be nurturing, sustaining, and therapeutic.

Domestic Spaces

After a hard day the narrator retires to his private sanctuary: his home, where his beloved reads him a poem in order to palliate his cares. This domestic space is crucial to the poem's message. Its coziness, its permanence, the presence within it of a loving wife all suggest its value to the narrator, and, by extension, serves as an aspiration for readers. The first half of the 19th century witnessed the market revolution, a time of rapid and vast change in the areas of the economy, transportation, communication, and technology. The home was thus seen as a refuge from the fast-paced, rough, and chaotic world outside its doors. Longfellow gives voice to that sentiment in this poem as well as others like "The Children's Hour."

Life's Struggles

Longfellow does not have a particularly rosy view of life. He uses the following words to describe it: "restless," "toil," "endeavor," "long days of labor," "care," "devoid of ease." He feels a sense of "sadness and longing" and "the restless pulse of care." The days are thus long and tiring and occasionally burdensome. That is why one must have a home and a family and some sort of art like poetry or music to quell these feelings of discomfort and sorrow.