The poem The Orphan Girl by Henry Louis Vivian Derozio is about a young girl whose father died in a war and mother died in the sorrow of her husband. She is left orphan and poet is concerned about her future in the cruel world.

The poem consists of two main stanzas having 12 lines each. Expect the first four lines, every two lines rhyme with each other.

The Orphan Girl by Derozio Summary

  • Part 1

The poem begins with the description of the orphan girl. According to the poet, her (orphan girl’s) Her hair was black as a raven’s wings. Raven means crow. Her cheeks were as bright as the tulip flower.

Her voice was as soft as the wind or air in the night which is quite calm and gentle. Her forehead was as bright as the rays of the moon. The beginning is thus quite pleasing but after the fourth line, the poet turns to the dark reality.

The sire (father) of that girl went to war and fought bravely but ultimately lost his life and he knew that before dying. The poet sighs, this is the reward for a brave in this world. The phrase depicts the cruelty of the world and how it rewards the good and bold people.

The death of her father was not born by her mother. Rather than living as a widow she also died of a heart attack and the young girl was left without parents.

  • Part 2

The first part begins with an appreciation of a young girl’s beauty and ends with a tragedy. The second part describes the poet’s uncertainty of her future in the world. She has no friends on this cold (without human warmth) and bleak (without hope) earth.

There is no one to give her a shelter, a home, and a hearth (warmth). She will now have to live in this dull and depressing world (desert here refers to the world) alone.

The poet again repeats the phrase that she has no friend and she should now stay away from being good and kind as the cruel world will scorn, mock and abuse her. And this cruel nature of the world will ultimately kill her.

The poet laments the fact that the shame which she will suffer will be enough to squeeze blood from her breasts with the weight of sorrows and guilt and she will be oppressed by the world.

The poet then says that it’s very cruel to wound the bosom (here symbolises that girl) whose blood is coming out of the breasts in an uncontrolled way because of sorrows and shame. No tear can be as painful as the tears that flow from the eyes of a sorrowful and oppressed woman in the world.

And the most blessed and honourable, according to the poet is the one who would shelter an orphan from sorrow and shame! Thus the poem ends in hope and uncertainty about the future of the orphan girl.

The poem gives an insight into the condition of woman and the suppression which she faced during the time of the poet. A girl whose parents would die had to live a shameful life and was physically, mentally and sexually tortured by the people.

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