Casabianca

Original Text: 
Poetical Works of Mrs. Felicia Hemans, 4th American edn. (New York: Evert Duyckinck, 1828): II, 135-36. Internet Archive
2    Whence all but he had fled;
3The flame that lit the battle's wreck,
4    Shone round him o'er the dead.
5Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
6    As born to rule the storm;
7A creature of heroic blood,
8    A proud, though child-like form.
9The flames roll'd on--he would not go,
10    Without his Father's word;
11That father, faint in death below,
12    His voice no longer heard.
13He call'd aloud--"Say, Father, say
14    If yet my task is done?"
15He knew not that the chieftain lay
16    Unconscious of his son.
17"Speak, Father!" once again he cried,
18    "If I may yet be gone!"
19--And but the booming shots replied,
20    And fast the flames roll'd on.
21Upon his brow he felt their breath,
22    And in his waving hair;
23And look'd from that lone post of death,
24    In still, yet brave despair.
25And shouted but once more aloud,
26    "My Father! must I stay?"
27While o'er him fast, through sail and shroud,
28    The wreathing fires made way.
29They wrapt the ship in splendour wild,
30    They caught the flag on high,
31And stream'd above the gallant child,
32    Like banners in the sky.
33There came a burst of thunder sound--
34    The boy--oh! where was he?
35--Ask of the winds that far around
36    With fragments strew'd the sea!
37With mast, and helm, and pennon fair,
38    That well had borne their part--
39But the noblest thing which perish'd there,
40    Was that young faithful heart.

Notes

1] In 1798 during the Battle of the Nile aboard the French ship Orient, Giocante (son of the commander Louis de Casabianca) stayed at his post and died when the munitions magazine exploded in flames. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1826
Publication Notes: 
New Monthly Magazine
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2011
Rhyme: 
Form: