“The Lamplighter”

From Wikipedia:”The Lamplighter is a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson published in 1885 in Penny Whistles (better known today as A Child’s Garden of Verses). This poem may be autobiographical. Stevenson was sickly growing up (probably tuberculosis), thus “when I am stronger” may refer to his hope of recovery. Further, his illness isolated him, so the loneliness expressed in the poem would fit well with his own childhood...

There may also be some nostalgia reflected in the poem. In 1881, Stevenson published the essay, “A Plea For Gas Lamps,” in “Virginibus Puerisque, and Other Papers.” In this essay, he sentimentally upholds gas lamps against electric lights, describing electric light as “that ugly blinding glare” and “a lamp for a nightmare.” In the same essay, he describes the lamplighter as one punching holes in the night and as one worthy of being immortalized in a Greek myth, but one whose task has been overtaken by automatic electric ignition of the gas lights. Because Penny Whistles was published 4 years later, it may represent a similar theme.”

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,

Oh 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 O! before you hurry by with ladder and with light,

O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him tonight!

(And watch this…) https://youtu.be/v2BjX1blK4I


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