Amelia Opie

(12 November 1769 – 2 December 1853 / Norwich)

The Orphan Boy's Tale


Stay, lady, stay, for mercy's sake,
And hear a helpless orphan's tale,
Ah! sure my looks must pity wake,
'Tis want that makes my cheek so pale.

Yet I was once a mother's pride,
And my brave father's hope and joy,
But in the Nile's proud fight he died,
And I am now an orphan boy.

Poor foolish child! how pleased was I,
When news of Nelson's victory came,
Along the crowded streets to fly,
And see the lighted windows flame!

To force me home my mother sought,
She could not bear to see my joy;
For with my father's life 'twas bought,
And made me a poor orphan boy.

The people's shouts were long and loud,
My mother, shuddering, clos'd her ears;
'Rejoice! rejoice!' still cried the crowd;
My mother answered with her tears.

'Why are you crying thus,' said I,
'While others laugh and shout for joy?'
She kiss'd me -- and with such a sigh!
She called me her poor orphan boy.

'What is an orphan boy?' I cried,
As in her face I look'd and smil'd;
My mother through her tears replied,
'You'll know too soon, ill-fated child!'

And now they've toll'd my mother's knell,
And I'm no more a parent's joy;
O lady, -- I have learnt too well
What 'tis to be an orphan boy.

Oh! were I by your bounty fed!
Nay, gentle lady, do not chide,--
Trust me, I mean to earn my bread;
The sailor's orphan boy has pride.

Lady, you weep! -- ha? -- this to me?
You'll give me clothing, food, employ
Look down, dear parents! look and see
Your happy, happy orphan boy!

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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