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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!

by Robert William Service
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