The Little Orphan

Original Text: 
Edgar A. Guest, Home Rhymes From "Breakfast Table Chat" (Detroit: no publisher, 1909), pp. 120-21. Brief PSA 0024155 ROBA
1The crowded street his playground is, a patch of blue his sky;
2A puddle in a vacant lot his sea where ships pass by:
3Poor little orphan boy of five, the city smoke and grime
4Taint every cooling breeze he gets throughout the summer time;
5And he is just as your boy is, a child who loves to play,
6Except that he is drawn and white and cannot get away.
7And he would like the open fields, for often in his dreams
8The angels kind bear him off to where are pleasant streams,
9Where he may sail a splendid boat, sometimes he flies a kite,
10Or romps beside a shepherd dog and shouts with all his might;
11But when the dawn of morning comes he wakes to find once more
12That what he thought were sun-kissed hills are rags upon the floor.
13Then through the hot and sultry day he plays at "make-pretend,"
14The alley is a sandy beach where all the rich folks send
15Their little boys and girls to play, a barrel is his boat,
16But, oh, the air is tifling and the dust fills up his throat;
17And though he tries so very hard to play, somehow it seems
18He never gets such wondrous joys as angels bring in dreams.
19Poor little orphan boy of five, except that he is pale,
20With sunken cheeks and hollow eyes and very wan and frail,
21Just like that little boy of yours, with same desire to play,
22Fond of the open fields and skies, he's built the self-same way;
23But kept by fate and circumstance away from shady streams,
24His only joy comes when he sleeps and angels bring him dreams.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.