The Light-Keeper II, Robert Louis Stevenson

The Light-Keeper II
by Robert Louis Stevenson

As the steady lenses circle
With frosty gleam of glass;
And the clear bell chimes,
And the oil brims over the lip of the burner,
Quiet and still at his desk,
The Lonely Light-Keeper
Holds his vigil.

Lured from far,
The bewildered seagull beats
Dully against the lantern;
Yet he stirs not, lefts not his head
From the desk where he reads,
Lifts not his eyes to see
The chill blind circle of night
Watching him through the panes.
This is his country’s guardian,
The outmost sentry of peace,
This is the man
Who gives up what is lovely in living
For the means to live.

Poetry cunningly guilds
The life of the Light-Keeper,
Held on high in the blackness
In the burning kernal of night,
The seaman sees and blesses him,
The Poet, deep in a sonnet,
Numbers his inky fingers
Fitly to praise him.
Only we behold him,
Sitting, patient and stolid,
Martyr to a salary.

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