Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE ORPHAN BOY'S TALE, by AMELIA OPIE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE ORPHAN BOY'S TALE, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Stay, lady, stay, for mercy's sake
Last Line: Your happy, happy orphan boy.
Alternate Author Name(s): Alderson, Amelia
Subject(s): Adversity; Orphans; Foundlings

Stay, Lady, stay for mercy's sake,
And hear a helpless orphan's tale;
Ah! sure my looks must pity wake,
'T is 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 pleas'd 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 't was bought,
And made me a poor orphan boy.

The people's shouts were long and loud,
My mother shuddering closed her ears;
"Rejoice, rejoice," still cried the crowd,
My mother answer'd with her tears.
"Why are you crying thus," said I,
"While others laugh and shout with joy?"
She kiss'd me -- and with such a sigh!
She call'd 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't is to be an orphan boy.

O 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.

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