In about eighteen hundred there was a critical and major naval sea battle in the Mediterranean (the battle of the Nile – between English and French forces) with a youngster named Giocante at a post on board the French ship L’Orient. He was the son, of only about 10, of the ship’s commander Casabianca, and he perished because he would not desert his own post without an order to do so. The poem below was inspired by the incident and was written by a English poet born in Liverpool!
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,
As born to rule the storm;
A creature of heroic blood,
A proud, though childlike form.
The flames roll’d on…he would not go
Without his father’s word;
That father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.
He call’d aloud…”Say, father, say
If yet my task is done!”
He knew not that the chieftain lay
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 roll’d on.
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 one more aloud,
“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,
And stream’d 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
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.
Author: Mrs. Felicia Dorothea Hemans
Published in the 1820s
[You may well ask what was a brave boy of that age doing in a war situation in those days?
Also you might well ask as well though why millions of innocent children are still being killed around the world in modern times in modern wars and conflicts?]