Casabianca Summary by Felicia Dorothea Hemans

The poem Casabianca is an ode to the spirit and unflinching moral fortitude of a young boy named Casabianca. Faced with the worst odds and obstacles he fights bravely to his death.

This 19th Century poem is based on a real event where a 12-year-old Casabianca withstood fire and desertion by his comrades to fight for his country and uphold his father’s command.

Table of Contents

Young Casabianca

The beginning of the poem sets the tone of heroism and courage that is exemplified by young Casabianca. He stands alone against enemy attack and the rampant fire on the ship as his fellow brothers in arms start to scurry for safety.

Some have died while others are selfishly busy trying to find an escape while this young boy stands undeterred. He realizes the raging nature of the fire and seeks the command of his father, the commander of the ship. His father does not reply and he continues to stand his ground.

His Brave Death

The situation worsens and the enemy shelling becomes even more unrelenting. Casabianca asks his father again for allowance to alight the ship. He does not realize that by now his father had died and he was left stranded to fend for himself.

Soon the fire seizes the boy. It first engulfs his head and then seizes him from all angles. The torment does not end there and his body his shred to small pieces as a shell collides with the burning body.

He is Forgotten

When the smokes settle and embers fade, there is no sign of the brave young man who weathered such ordeal. There was no celebration of his heroic attempt as there was no relic of his feat and no sign of his existence.

But the memory of what pride and loyalty he salvaged and the glory of his honourable sacrifice meant that his fame outlived his body. Even though no sign of his life was retrieved, his obedience to the cause of his family and nation immortalized his legacy into an undying legend.

Some people may also wander if he did run for cover he might have saved his life and possibly serve his country more admirably. However, in the face of death his sense of sacrifice and devotion cannot be questioned or belittled.

In real, it was the merciless act of war that stole a young and vibrant life and ruined a bright future. The costs of violence and war are immeasurably huge to justify even though the political interests always attempt to do so.