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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, 
   As born to rule the storm; 
A creature of heroic blood, 
   A proud, though child-like 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. 
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!– 
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.