The Lamplighter

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The Lamplighter
written by Walter de la Mare
Songs of Childhood (1902)




    When the light of day declineth,
    And a swift angel through the sky
    Kindleth God's tapers clear,
    With ashen staff the lamplighter
    Passeth along the darkling streets
    To light our earthly lamps;

    Lest, prowling in the darkness,
    The thief should haunt with quiet tread,
    Or men on evil errands set;
    Or wayfarers be benighted;
    Or neighbours bent from house to house
    Should need a guiding torch.

    He is like a needlewoman
    Who deftly on a sable hem
    Stitches in gleaming jewels;
    Or, haply, he is like a hero,
    Whose bright deeds on the long journey
    Are beacons on our way.

    And when in the East cometh morning,
    And the broad splendour of the sun,
    Then, with the tune of little birds
    Ringing on high, the lamplighter
    Passeth by each quiet house,
    And putteth out the lamps.

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