Poetry

The Lamplighter



                       
                                                       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!


                                              
I am old enough to remember the lamplighter.
In winter, when it was dark before I was in my bed, I can remember watching him as he came up the steep hill towards us, carrying his ladder, and stopped under each lamp-post.
Carefully he would set up his ladder and begin to climb, and very soon a lovely round pool of golden light would appear, as if by magic, around the base of the dark green pole.
A long line of comforting lights would follow him, up the road and round the corner.
I thought it was a very important job; he seemed to me a sort of angel in trousers, because I did not like the world to be dark and he made me feel safe.

In summer-time I was sent to bed before he came, and the second poem, also by Robert Louis Stevenson, absolutely reflects how I used to feel.

                                         Bed in Summer

In winter I get up at night

And dress by yellow candle-light.

In summer, quite the other way,

I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see

The birds still hopping on the tree,

Or hear the grown-up people's feet

Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,

When all the sky is clear and blue,

And I should like so much to play,

To have to go to bed by day?


                                
In 'A Child's Garden of Verses,' Robert Louis Stevenson captures for me, so well, what it felt like to be a child in the thirties: to be full of ideas and fancies, fears and wonders, and at the same time helpless under adult rule, and with no right to opinions or power of veto.

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