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“Casablanca” is a poem written by the poet Felecia Hemans. The poem was written in 1826, the poem was known because of its time which is the first line. The poem is a reference to the Battle of Nile that took place in August of 1798. The boy, the son of an admiral, stood on the burning deck of the ship. In the poem, the poet talks about a boy named Casabianca, who loses his life because of his obedience to his father‘s commands.
About the poet
Felicia Dorothea Hemans was born in 1793 in the United Kingdom. She was an English poet. She published her first collection of poems at the age of 14 years in 1808. She is famous for her poem “Casabianca”, who’s first line has a classic status. She also published her narrative poem “England and Spain, or, Valour and Patriotism”.
The poem is a lyric poem written in quatrain form. The poem consists of 10 quatrains, where each stanza consists of four lines.
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.
In the first stanza, the speaker is describing the boy in the poem, he is standing while the ship is burning. He stays when the ship burns while everybody has left or fled the ship. The flames had captured the wreck of the battle that the ship was fighting and all around him it was consuming the dead people.
In this stanza the poet introduces the readers to the character of Casabianca, the “Boy”. The stanza describes in detail the situation of the ship and the boy. The ship is on fire, there is fire on the deck and surrounds the boy.
Everyone had fled and jumped the ship when they noticed that he had caught on fire. But the boy is standing still on the deck while the fire spreads all around him. There are other people lying dead on the deck of the ship and the fire is shining over them, this presents the gravity of the situation. The boy can lose his life but he does not move.
Yet beautiful and bright he stood, As born to rule the storm; A creature of heroic blood, A proud, though child-like form.
In this stanza, the speaker admires the boy, labeling him a hero for his courageous demeanor. The lines emphasize the boy’s remarkable display of bravery as he stands resolute on the burning ship’s deck.
The speaker suggests that the boy’s stance conveys a natural authority, as if he were destined to confront and conquer the storm. Despite the dangerous circumstances and the flames around him, the boy stands unwavering, embodying the spirit of a leader confronting the storm with undaunted resolve.
In this stanza, the poet compares the young boy to a heroic figure. He stands with bravery among the spreading fire and because of that his form is brightened and looks beautiful. Due to the tumultuous surrounding and the unmoving figure of the boy, the poet calls him someone born to rule the storm. She calls him a creature of heroic blood because of his gallantry. But she still reflects on the fact that he is a young boy in the last line, “A proud, though child-like form.”
The flames rolled on–he would not go Without his Father's word; That father, faint in death below, His voice no longer heard.
The speaker tells the readers that even though the fire spread all around him, the boy would not go without the command from his father. But the father was unable to give him the order to jump ship because he was hurt and lying unconscious somewhere below the deck. The father’s voice was not heard by the boy.
In this stanza, the poet tells the readers about the reason behind the boy’s actions. The boy stands there within rising flames because he has been commanded by his father not to move. The boy is waiting for his father to tell him to leave his post. But the father is unable to give the order because he is gravely hurt. Even if he wanted to tell his son to run and save his life, he can not do so.
He called aloud–'say, Father, say If yet my task is done?' He knew not that the chieftain lay Unconscious of his son.
The boy calls out to his father to request permission to leave the burning ship. He receives no response but he does not know that his father is unconscious under the deck. The contrast between the urgency in the boy’s plea and the silent struggle of his father adds a layer of suspense, emphasizing the dire situation they find themselves in. The scene captures the tension and uncertainty aboard the burning ship.
The poet skillfully portrays a shift in the boy’s emotional state, moving from bravery to fear. As he calls out to his father, seeking approval to leave the situation, a sense of fear creeps into his voice. Unknown to the boy, his father remains unconscious, rendering him unable to hear or respond.
This creates a contrast between the boy’s growing anxiety and the silent, unconscious state of his father. The stanza brings dramatic irony, highlighting the boy’s vulnerability in the face of danger and his unawareness of the critical condition of his father below the deck.
'Speak, father!' once again he cried, 'If I may yet be gone!' And but the booming shots replied, And fast the flames rolled on.
The reader can sense the urgency in the boy’s voice. He has started to realize that he needs to leave as soon as possible. He calls out to his father again but receives no reply. But the sire has reached the ammunition and loud blasts erupt and the flames start spreading faster.
The poet vividly depicts the intensifying fear within the boy as he desperately calls out to his father, seeking permission to escape the escalating danger. The emotional turmoil is highlighted as the boy grapples with the urgency of his situation.
Meanwhile, the scene takes a dramatic turn as the fire, instead of relenting, intensifies, growing brighter and hotter. The unfolding events highlight the gravity of the situation, underscoring the boy’s desperate plea amid the mounting chaos of the burning ship.
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.
The fire has creeped closer to the boy, he feels it on his face and near his hair. The boy is in trouble because the fire is getting really close to him. He can feel the heat on his face and near his hair. Despite feeling more and more worried, he stays where he is, like he’s supposed to.
The situation is getting scarier, but the boy doesn’t leave his spot, showing a mix of bravery and maybe a sense of duty. He stands at his post with building despair but he still does not leave his place.
The boy knows that the fire is spreading and getting closer to him. The fire has been personified and its flames are compared to breaths. The fire’s breath is felt by the boy near his forehead and in his hair. But he still stands alone at his post of death. This can mean that the body anticipates his death, yet he still stands there bravely. The poet points out the contradiction in the last line. The boy is brave yet scared about his imminent death.
And shouted but once more aloud, 'My father! must I stay?' While o'er him fast, through sail and shroud, The wreathing fires made way.
The boy shouts to his father once more, hoping for a response. He questions whether he still has to stay on the ship, finding it boring. Meanwhile, the fire inches closer, burning away the sail’s cloth and approaching the boy. This moment captures the boy’s increasing anxiety as he seeks guidance from his father, unaware that the danger is growing more immediate around him. The burning sail symbolizes the advancing threat.
In these lines we can sense the desperation of the young boy. He calls out to his father again. He demands to know if he still has to stay standing on the burning ship. Here the reader can see that the boy does have the sense to understand his situation. He does not understand the urgency of the situation. He knows that he should leave and save his life. All the while the fire gets closer to him. It has spread to the mast and the cloth of the sail.
They wrapt the ship in splendor wild, They caught the flag on high, And streamed above the gallant child, Like banners in the sky.
The speaker paints a vivid picture of the fire spreading all over the ship. It wraps around the entire vessel, blazing brightly. The flag at the top of the mast catches fire, adding to the intensity. The flames engulf the ship, creating a fiery scene. Amid this, the brave boy stands on the deck, surrounded by the burning chaos. The description emphasizes the all-encompassing nature of the fire, portraying a dramatic and perilous situation with the boy at the center of it.
The poet here calls the flame “splendor wild”. The speaker talks about how the situation is both dangerously wild and splendid at the same time. The flames catch fire to the french flag at the top of the mast of the ship and all the while, the boy stands in his place gallantly. The banner of the french flag has been replaced by the flames reaching high up into the sky. Now the fire is spreading its banner across the night sky.
There came a burst of thunder sound– The boy–oh! where was he? Ask of the winds that far around With fragments strewed the sea!–
Suddenly, another burst of flame happens. Now, the speaker can’t see the boy anymore. The verse describes how the boy is no longer there, and it suggests that only the wind knows where he went.
It says the wind has scattered his ashes all over the sea, indicating that the boy might have faced a tragic end in the fire. It’s a sad and final moment, emphasizing the uncertainty and vastness of the sea as the resting place for the boy’s remains.
With another explosion of fire, Casabianca meets his end. The poet emphasizes this tragic event by asking a rhetorical question that implies the boy’s death. The fiery blast is what caused the boy’s death, and as a result, his ashes are carried by the wind, spreading all across the sea.
This paints a somber picture of the boy’s fate, highlighting the destructive power of the fire and the poignant aftermath as his remains are scattered far and wide. It’s a moment of sorrow, marked by the forceful impact of the flames on Casabianca’s life and the subsequent dispersal of his ashes by the wind.
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.
The speaker describes how the fire has destroyed everything on the ship—the mast, the helm, and everything else. In the midst of this destruction, the speaker reflects on what was most valuable, claiming that among all the things consumed by the fire, the noblest was the young boy with a courageous heart.
This emphasizes the idea that, even though the physical elements of the ship are gone, the bravery and noble spirit of the young boy remain as a significant and enduring quality. It adds a poignant layer to the aftermath of the fire, focusing on the boy’s character as a lasting and honorable legacy amid the ruins.
The poet describes how everything on the ship comes to an end; the whole ship burns down. However, the poet points out that among all the things lost, the most honorable was Casabianca. The young boy showed great courage and had a loyal heart. Even though he perished in the fire, the poet emphasizes that he stayed strong and unwavering until the very end of his life.
This underlines the bravery and steadfastness of the boy, making his loss even more significant amid the destruction of the ship.The young boy was brave and had a faithful heart. He perished on the ship but he did not falter until he died.