Download Santa Filomena Study Guide

Subscribe Now

"A Lady With A Lamp"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Longfellow, narrative poet and children's favorite, often contented himself with writing of the simple, the brave, and the good. In "Santa Filomena," which means "Saint Nightingale," he praises Florence Nightingale, whose work in the hospitals with the soldiers of the Crimean War inspired more than her own country. Pointing out that noble deeds raise the heart, he describes hospital conditions during the war and places Miss Nightingale among the great women of English history:

Lo! in that house of misery
A lady with a lamp I see
Pass through the glimmering gloom,
And flit from room to room.
. . .
And slow, as in a dream of bliss,
The speechless sufferer turns to kiss
Her shadow, as it falls
Upon the darkening walls.
. . .
A Lady with a Lamp shall stand
In the great history of the land,
A noble type of good,
Heroic womanhood.