Robert Louis Stevenson

(1850-1894 / Edinburgh / Scotland)

The Lamplighter

Poem by Robert Louis Stevenson

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!

Comments about The Lamplighter by Robert Louis Stevenson

  • Joshua McBride (4/16/2020 2:15:00 PM)

    I like the poem with out sound.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • BlueLightnin'' (2/22/2019 4:50:00 PM)

    I have always wanted a yard lamp, that an animated figure of the lamplighter, that as dusk comes, the lamplighter comes out, and lights it, with a repeat as the dawn comes, only then he snuffs it out.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Avril M Sime (1/13/2019 11:20:00 AM)

    I loved this poem as a little child and could envisage RL looking out of his bedroom window, he was a sickly little boy, I am 75 now and still love this poem which encapsulates for me my Scottish childhood in Prestwick. I recommend a child's garden of verses truly magical to a child..(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Insha Firdous (7/21/2018 1:39:00 AM)

    plx tell me who is tom and maria in the poem(Report)Reply

    BlueLightnin''(2/22/2019 4:44:00 PM)

    I have always thought brother and sister, who desire other occupations.

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Fletcher Crombie (6/4/2018 4:53:00 PM)

    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.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Ellyn Gilbride (2/5/2018 8:05:00 PM)

    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.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Keith Landles (6/20/2016 5:17:00 AM)

    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.(Report)Reply

    Avril M Sime(1/13/2019 11:25:00 AM)

    Yes he was a sickly child but very much loved...and of course this is where he began his writing and where his imagination took flight and gave us so many classic and wonderful poems and stories..

    Fletcher Crombie(6/4/2018 4:59:00 PM)

    Sorry, Keith, but lamplighters in 19th and the first half of the 20th century went on foot. No horses for them.

    11 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Ravi ARavi A (5/1/2015 11:32:00 PM)

    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.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Kim BarneyKim Barney (5/1/2015 5:38:00 PM)

    Wow, who can say anything else? John said it all!(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • John Richter (5/1/2015 7:07:00 AM)

    Romanticism is an art movement in poetry and displayed so very well here. I love romanticism - because it connects me to the writer. As young children the world is something so much different than it is as adults. It is a magical playground of delicate, wonderful things that touch us in so many different, wonderful ways. When I was a child that size, about 100 years after R.L. was that age, the world was also filled with those same wonderments. True, technology changed. But when I was 8 years old my father lobbied the city council and finally got a street-light attached to the wooden telephone pole in front of our home on a crowded city street. Everything about that was new and amazing to me. From it's shiny new aluminum casing, to its sparkling-faceted lens, the way it lit and shone the entire portion of the street there, like a chain of soft glowing spots in a solemn darkness, being about 2 blocks away form others on either side.... My father told me there is a man at the power plant whose job it was to go through and flip all the street light switches one by one, slowly working through the neighborhoods - because if he flipped all the neighborhoods on at once it would have overloaded the system..... So I indeed had a 'Leerie' also.... And every time I would see the lamp switch on just before dark I would think of him, over in the plant, traveling his wall of switches and flipping them one by one..... Romanticism is more than just an art movement - it is a connection through time and space - as I see a young boy nestled in the covers of his loft, looking out the window, hearing softly the metal clops of the 'Leerie's' horse approaching on the cobble stone, the tender squeak of a wagon wheel perhaps, and finally the man himself with his long lighted rod, poking it through the lamp, watching it come alive with a glow that turned black and gray back to green..... So peaceful those nights must have been, so utterly quiet, so calm, and without doubt incredibly romantic... Another thing of importance to note is that this is shortly after the end of the Civil War, during a time of intense reconstruction.(Report)Reply

    7 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Richard BlayRichard Blay (5/1/2015 4:48:00 AM)

    1. The poem is a wishful poem; which we all had when we were young, I mean the fantasy.
    2. The boy could be 6,7,8,9 or not that old. Because from six our conscience begin to develop, and tend to imagine things (make up stories) and retain these images and also some important facts.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Karen Youderian (8/31/2014 10:30:00 AM)

    I picture a sick little boy approximately 8 to 10 years old who is confined to bed and the lamp lighter is one of his few glimpses of the world outside. He dreams of a day when he is stronger and able to be employed, but that may not be likely. This is possibly how the poem was illustrated in one of my books as a child.(Report)Reply

    Kim BarneyKim Barney(5/1/2015 5:37:00 PM)

    That sick little boy was Stevenson himself. He had very poor health as a child and not that much better as an adult.

    4 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Bibekananda Sen (8/20/2013 2:53:00 AM)

    The poem is a poem of wishful thinkings.such thinkings are very favourite with the poets. this poem also reminds me of a Bengali play by Rabindranath Thakur, titled 'Dakghar' (The Post office) , where there is a character of a child, Amal who has vented such wishful desires to a curd vendor n suchlike characters.(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • teal Skyteal Sky (4/15/2012 9:33:00 AM)

    this poem once appeared in my exams, and from then, i have always admired this poem.there are few memorable lines 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!
    and And oh! before you hurry by with ladder and with light;
    O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him to-night!
    the poem rhymes, such a cute poem, the depiction of child in innocent.he chooses to light lamps than being a hotshot banker.(Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Zoya Vincent (10/7/2008 10:49:00 AM)

    i dont have comments really but i want two ask u two questions 1 st pon the summary of the poem 2 nd one how old do u think is the boy? give reosons(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    10 person did not like.
Read all 19 comments »

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: light, child, night, sea, sky, sun, time, children

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003