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(The Boy stood on the Burning Deck)

Felicia Hemans
1793 - 1835


The boy stood on the burning deck,

Whence all but him had fled;

The flame that lit the battle's wreck

Shone round him o'er the dead.

Yet beautiful and bright he stood,

As born to rule the storm;

A creature of heroic blood,

A proud though childlike form.

The flames roll'd on; he would not go

Without his father's word;

That father, faint in death below,

His voice no longer heard.

He call'd aloud,   " Say, Father, say,

If yet my task be done ! "

He knew not that the chieftain lay

Unconscious of his son.

" Speak, Father ! "    once again he cried,

" If I may yet be gone ! "

And but the booming shots replied,

And fast the flames roll'd on.

Upon his brow he felt their breath,

And in his waving hair,

And look'd from that lone post of death

In still yet brave despair,

And shouted but once more aloud,

" My father !     Must I stay? "

While o'er him fast, through sail and shroud,

The wreathing fires made way.

They wrapt the ship in splendour wild,

They caught the flag on high,

And stream'd above the gallant child,

Like banners in the sky.

Then came a burst of thunder sound;

The boy, --- Oh !     Where was he?

Ask of the winds, that far around

With fragments strewed the sea, ---

With shroud and mast and pennon fair,

That well had home their part, ---

But the noblest thing that perish'd there

Was that young, faithful heart.


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