Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
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Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
 
Miscellaneous Poems.
V. Casabianca
By Felicia Dorothea Hemans (1793–1835)
 
          [Young Casabianca, son to the Admiral of the Orient, remained at his post (in the Battle of the Nile) after the ship had taken fire, and all the guns had been abandoned, and perished in the explosion of the vessel.]

THE BOY stood on the burning deck
  Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle’s wreck
  Shone round him o’er the dead.
 
Yet beautiful and bright he stood,        5
  As born to rule the storm—
A creature of heroic blood,
  A proud though child-like form.
 
The flames rolled on. He would not go
  Without his father’s word;        10
That father, faint in death below,
  His voice no longer heard.
 
He called aloud:—“Say, father! say
  If yet my task is done!”
He knew not that the chieftain lay        15
  Unconscious of his son.
 
“Speak, father!” once again he cried,
  “If I may yet be gone!”
And but the booming shots replied,
  And fast the flames rolled on.        20
 
Upon his brow he felt their breath,
  And in his waving hair,
And looked from that lone post of death
  In still yet brave despair;
 
And shouted but once more aloud,        25
  “My father! must I stay?”
While o’er him fast, through sail and shroud,
  The wreathing fires made way.
 
They wrapt the ship in splendour wild,
  They caught the flag on high,        30
And streamed above the gallant child
  Like banners in the sky.
 
There came a burst of thunder-sound—
  The boy—oh! where was he?
Ask of the winds that far around        35
  With fragments strewed the sea!—
 
With mast, and helm, and pennon fair,
  That well had borne their part;
But the noblest thing which perished there
  Was that young faithful heart!        40
 
 
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