Poem of the day

by 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 rolled on—he would not go
⁠      Without his father’s word;
That father, faint in death below,
⁠      His voice no longer heard.

He called aloud, “Say, father, say
⁠      If yet my task is 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 rolled on.

Upon his brow he felt their breath,
⁠      And in his waving hair;
And looked 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 streamed 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 strew the sea;

With mast, and helm, and pennon fair,
⁠      That well had borne their part—
But the noblest thing that perished there
⁠      Was that young, faithful heart.

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