Orphan School

Full fifty merry maids I heard
  One summer morn a-singing;
And each was like a joyous bird
  With spring-clear not a-ringing.
It was an old-time soldier song
  That held their happy voices:
Oh how it's good to swing along
  When youth rejoices!

Then lo! I dreamed long years had gone,
  They passed again ungladly.
Their backs were bent, their cheeks were wan,
  Their eyes were staring sadly.
Their ranks were thinned by full a score
  From death's remorseless reaping
Their steps were slow, they sang no more,--
  Nay, some were weeping.

Dark dream! I saw my maids today
  Singing so innocently;
Their eyes with happiness were gay,
  They looked at me so gently.
Thought I: Be merry in your youth
  With hearts unrueing:
Thank God you do not know the truth
  Of Life's Undoing!

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"Orphan School" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 1 Jun 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/32348/orphan-school>.

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