Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
By Felicia Dorothea Hemans (1793–1835)
THE BOY stood on the burning deck,
  Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle’s wreck,
  Shone round him o’er the dead;
Yet beautiful and bright he stood        5
  As born to rule the storm!
A creature of heroic blood,
  A proud, though child-like form!
The flames roll’d on—he would not go
  Without his Father’s word;        10
That Father, faint in death below,
  His voice no longer heard.
He call’d aloud: ‘Say, father, say
  If yet my task is done!’
He knew not that the chieftain lay        15
  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.        20
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,        25
  ‘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,        30
And stream’d above the gallant child
  Like banners in the sky.
There came a burst of thunder-sound—
  The boy—O! where was he?—
—Ask of the winds that far around        35
  With fragments strewed the sea,
With mast, and helm, and pennon fair,
  That well had borne their part;
But the noblest thing which perish’d there
  Was that young faithful heart!        40

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