Of Casabianca

Readers may draw parallels with Kashmir to extract the meaning out of this

DR. MIRZA ASHRAF BEG

Kashmir is passing through the worst phase of atrocities. So nothing comes to mind to pen down. Incidentally I am reminded of a poem that I have read when I was a 10th; grade and I thought to share it with you. 
The poem commemorates an actual incident that occurred in 1798 during the Battle of the Nile aboard the French ship Orient. The young son Giocante (his age is variously given as ten, twelve and thirteen) of commander Louis de Casabianca remained at his post and perished when the flames caused the magazine to explode.
In Hemans' and other tellings of the story, young Casabianca refuses to desert his post without orders from his father. (It is sometimes said, rather improbably, that he heroically set fire to the magazine to prevent the ship's capture by the British.) It's said that he was seen by English sailors on ships attacking from both sides but how any other details of the incident are known beyond the bare fact of the boy's death, is not clear. Hemans, not purporting to offer a history, but rather a poem inspired by the bare facts, writes:
Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
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;
That father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.
Hemans has him repeatedly, and heart-rendingly, calling to his father for instructions: "'Say, Father, say/If yet my task is done;'" "'Speak, father!' once again he cried/'If I may yet be gone;'" and "shouted but once more aloud/ 'My father! Must I stay?'" Alas, there is, of course, no response.
She concludes by commending the performances of both ship and boy:
With shroud and mast and pennon fair,
That well had home their part,—
But the noblest thing that perished there
Was that young, faithful heart.
This poem was a staple of elementary school readers in the United Kingdom and the United States over a period of about a century spanning, roughly, the 1850s through the 1950s. As often memorized and recited as to lose any shred of meaning or emotion, it is today remembered mostly as a tag line and as a topic of parody.
Tail piece:- Readers in Kashmir will kindly read the message between the lines conveyed in this poetry of wisdom and our younger generation perishing on the burning deck waiting for the call from their dads that have already perished on the burning deck need to understand, ‘discretion is better part of valor. Battles can be fought with pen and wisdom. Guns lead the victory of the dying on the dead.’
(Dr.Mirza Ashraf Beg is the author of the book, ‘Kashmir in search of peace.’)
rashrafbeg@gmail.com

Lastupdate on : Wed, 20 Mar 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 20 Mar 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 21 Mar 2013 00:00:00 IST




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