[This poem is written by Felicia Dorothea Hemans (1793-1835). She was born at Liverpool, but the family moved to Wales where she was brought up. She was quick in mind and had a fine memory. As a poet, she has been compared to Longfellow. Like Cowper, she loved the pathetic, and there is great enthusiasm for chivalry and heroism in her work. She also stressed moral values.]
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. 4
Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
As born to rule the storm;
A creature of heroic blood,
A proud, though child-like form. 8
The flames rolled on - he would not go
Without his father's word;
That father faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard. 12
He called aloud: "Say, father! say
If yet my task is done?"
He knew not that the chieftain by
Unconscious of his son. 16
"Speak, father!" once again he cried,
"If I may yet be gone!"
And but the booming shots replied,
And fast the flames rolled on. 20
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. 24
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. 28
They wrapt the ship in splendour wild,
They caught the flag on high,
And streamed above the gallant child,
Like banners in the sky. 32
There came a burst of thunder sound
The boy oh! where was he?
Ask of the winds that far around
With fragments strewed the sea! 36
With mast, and helm, and pennon fair,
That well had borne their part:
But the noblest thing which perished there.
Was that young faithful heart! 40
Felicia Dorothea Hemans
1. the deck: the floor of a ship.
3. the battle's wreck: the ship had become a wreck after being damaged in the fighting
7. heroic blood: the blood of great and noble people; the boy had inherited greatness and nobility from his forefathers.
15. chieftain: a chief: a leader.
16. unconscious: unaware; not knowing.
19. to boom: to make a deep, echoing sound as of guns.
27. a shroud: one of the ropes stretching from the mast to the side of a ship. 29. wrapt: wrapped.
31. gallant: brave.
32. a banner: a flag or standard.
36. strewed: covered with small pieces.
37. the mast: a thick tall pole of wood or metal to which a ship's sails are tied)
helm: wheel for steering a ship.
a pennon: a narrow flag flown from the top of the mast.