Florence Nightingale
The Lady with the Lamp

This poem for kids about Florence Nightingale, the pioneering nurse, was written by British children's writer Paul Perro in 2008.

Florence came from a wealthy family and was unusually well educated. She felt called by God to become a nurse, even though at the time it was not considered a suitable profession for a lady. It was her work in a hospital in Turkey during the Crimean War (1854-56) that made her reputation, but it was the way that she made nursing into a respectable profession that was her most important achievement.

After the poem, scroll down further for more facts.

Florence Nightingale
A poem for kids

Long ago there was a soldier
Fighting in a war.
His name was Bert, and he got hurt,
His leg was very sore.

They took him to a hospital
And put him in a bed.
They hoped he would get better but
He got much worse instead.

It was a nasty, smelly place
Everything was dirty -
The floors, the beds, the bandages,
Poor old injured Bertie.

Onto the bed jumped three big rats
They laughed at Bert and said
“We'll give you a nasty disease
And soon you will be dead.”

Poor Bert was very scared indeed,
The rats were right, he feared.
He thought that he was going to die
But then, a light appeared.

It was a lady with a lamp
Called Florence Nightingale.
She took one look at the rats, and
Picked them up, by the tail.

“No rats allowed in here,” she said
“On this I’m quite determined.
From now on this place will be kept
Clean, safe, and de-vermined."

The rats saw that she meant business
And ran away in fear.
Then Florence smiled and Bertie said,
“I’m really glad you’re here.”

She gave him a nice clean bandage
And ointment for the pain.
And it was not too long before
Bertie felt well again.

Florence Nightingale was the best
Nurse there had ever been.
But she did so much more than just
Keep one hospital clean.

She wrote great books about nursing
And opened up a school.
She made it seem like being a nurse
Was really really cool!

Nowadays all of us can thank
The lady with the lamp
That hospitals are clean and fresh
And not dirty and damp.

Nowadays we think cleanliness
Seems like just common sense
But it would have all been different
Were it not for Florence.

Facts About Florence Nightingale

  • She was born on 12 May 1820

  • Her parents were on holiday in Italy at the time, in a beautiful city called Florence. They named their daughter after the city.

  • Before Florence's time, people did not know that disease is caused by germs, and that germs grow best in dirty conditions. Victorian hospitals were dirty and full of germs.

  • She decided to become a nurse after visiting a hospital in Germany when she was 19.

  • Her parents were against the idea, but after many arguments finally agreed to let her begin her training.

  • In 1853 she became the manager of a hospital in London, and made many improvements.

  • In 1854 the Crimean War began - England France and Turkey were fighting against Russia. The government asked Florence to take a group of nurses out to the Crimea to help the wounded at Scutari hospital.

  • At first, the doctors at Scutari did not want the nurses to go near the wounded soldiers. So the women cleaned the hospital instead. Then they organized a kitchen and made tasty soups for them.

  • Soon, the doctors asked Florence and her nurses to help look after the men. Each evening Florence made her rounds of the hospital with a lamp in her hand. She cared for the soldiers and made them feel better.

  • Back in England, people heard about "The Lady with the Lamp". She became very famous.

  • Florence got sick herself while out in the Crimea, and nearly died. She was determined to stay and help though.

  • After the war, she kept on working, improving hospitals, opening training schools, and writing books. It is thanks to Florence Nightingale that nurses are now properly trained to care for us all.

  • She lived until she was ninety years old.

By Jem, age 5

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