Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IX. Tragedy: Humor
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IX. Tragedy: Humor.  1904.
 
Poems of Tragedy: XV. The Sea
Casabianca
Felicia Dorothea Hemans (1793–1835)
 
   [Young Casabianca, a boy about thirteen years old, son of 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, when the flames had reached the powder.]

THE BOY stood on the burning deck,
  Whence all but him 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 childlike 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 be 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 splendor 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 shroud and mast and pennon fair,
  That well had borne their part,—
But the noblest thing that perished there
  Was that young, faithful heart.        40
 
 
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