The Lamplighter

My tea is nearly ready and the sun has left the sky.
It's time to take the window to see Leerie going by;
For every night at teatime and before you take your seat,
With lantern and with ladder he comes posting up the street.

Now Tom would be a driver and Maria go to sea,
And my papa's a banker and as rich as he can be;
But I, when I am stronger and can choose what I'm to do,
O Leerie, I'll go round at night and light the lamps with you!

For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door,
And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more;
And oh! before you hurry by with ladder and with light;
O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him to-night!

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Comments (11)

Lamplighters went on foot. No horses for them - not in 19th century or even 20th century Edinburgh. But it's a very evocative wee poem.
My mother stopped at the bed of each of her children and asked what poem she should tell just for them. I most always asked for The Lamplighter. Mo mother was 92 years old when she died in my arms as I was reciting The Lamplighter to her. I could never forget a single word.
Romaticism? Don't know anything about it. I do know however that RLS was a sickly child, often ill and therefore confined to his room and bed. I think the key to this poem is in the line But I, when I am stronger. The child is telling us that he is ill and that being so condemns him to a dreary, very lonely existence, with little humn comfort, so much so that the simple clip clop of the horse's shoes on the cobbles outside brings excitement in the knowledge that the lamplighter is coming. He yearns just to be noticed by another human being - to relieve his dreadful boredom - and that even a nod of acknowledgement from the leerie would bring him comfort. A brilliant sketch, in three short verses, of a very meaningful period in the life of RLS himself. magical and sad at the same time.
How simple but how effective! If we can have such visions throughout our life, how blessed shall be all of us! Actually, in the run of our life, we lose such poise of mind. This is the very problem. There is always a child sleeping deep within us throughout our life and if that child is able acknowledge the simplicity of life, well, this world will definitely be with less amount of quarrels and wars. Let us all try to wake up that child who is but sleeping at the moment.
Wow, who can say anything else? John said it all!
See More