The Captive Child

September 8: 1650

Child in girlhood's early grace,
Pale white rose of royal race,
Flower of France, and England's flower,
What dost here at twilight hour
Captive bird in castle-hold,
Picture-fair and calm and cold,
Cold and still as marble stone
In gray Carisbrook alone?
--Fold thy limbs and take thy rest,
Nestling of the silent nest!

Ah fair girl! So still and meek,
One wan hand beneath her cheek,
One on the holy texts that tell
Of God's love ineffable;--
Last dear gift her father gave
When, before to-morrow's grave,
By no unmanly grief unmann'd,
To his little orphan band
In that stress of anguish sore
He bade farewell evermore.

Doom'd, unhappy King! Had he
Known the pangs in store for thee,
Known the coarse fanatic rage
That,--despite her flower-soft age,
Maidenhood's first blooming fair,--
Fever-struck in the imprison'd air
As rosebud on the dust-hill thrown
Cast a child to die alone,--
He had shed, with his last breath,
Bitterer tears than tears of death!

As in her infant hour she took
In her hand the pictured book
Where Christ beneath the scourger bow'd,
Crying 'O poor man!' aloud,
And in baby tender pain
Kiss'd the page, and kiss'd again,
While the happy father smiled
On his sweet warm-hearted child;
--So now to him, in Carisbrook lone,
All her tenderness has flown.

Oft with a child's faithful heart
She has seen him act his part;
Nothing in his life so well
Gracing him as when he fell;
Seen him greet his bitter doom
As the mercy-message Home;
Seen the scaffold and the shame,
The red shower that fell like flame;
Till the whole heart within her died,
Dying in fancy by his side.

--Statue-still and statue-fair
Now the low wind may lift her hair,
Motionless in lip and limb;
E'en the fearful mouse may skim
O'er the window-sill, nor stir
From the crumb at sight of her;
Through the lattice unheard float
Summer blackbird's evening note;--
E'en the sullen foe would bless
That pale utter gentleness.

--Eyes of heaven, that pass and peep,
Do not question, if she sleep!
She has no abiding here,
She is past the starry sphere;
Kneeling with the children sweet
At the palm-wreathed altar's feet;
--Innocents who died like thee,
Heaven-ward through man's cruelty,
To the love-smiles of their Lord
Borne through pain and fire and sword.

Font size:
Collection  PDF     

Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

2:05 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 2,197
Words 401
Stanzas 8
Stanza Lengths 1, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10

Francis Turner Palgrave

Francis Turner Palgrave was a British critic and poet. more…

All Francis Turner Palgrave poems | Francis Turner Palgrave Books

1 fan

Discuss the poem "The Captive Child" with the community...



    Find a translation for this poem in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:


    "The Captive Child" STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 10 Dec. 2023. <>.

    Become a member!

    Join our community of poets and poetry lovers to share your work and offer feedback and encouragement to writers all over the world!

    December 2023

    Poetry Contest

    Join our monthly contest for an opportunity to win cash prizes and attain global acclaim for your talent.



    Are you a poetry master?

    From which London landmark did Wordsworth celebrate the view in his poem beginning: "Earth has not any thing to show more fair..."
    • A. Westminster Bridge
    • B. Waterloo Sunset
    • C. Hampstead Heath
    • D. The Tower of London