From Indies Unlimited:
Let’s be real: poetry is often treated like the wayward stepchild of the writing world. It doesn’t sell as well as other genres, so it’s not produced in the same quantities. But sales don’t equal love, and in April, poetry takes center stage in NaPoWriMo (aka National Poetry Writing Month).
Much like its better-known cousin, NaNoWriMo, NaPoWriMo is a month devoted to poetry. While the goal of National Novel Writing Month is to have a completed 50,000-word novel at the end of 30 days, NaPoWriMo wants authors to have 30 poems by month’s end.
Poetry is a medium that can be extremely useful to fiction writers. It requires the author to express a great depth of thought and emotion in a very short turn of phrase. Rather than pages to set a scene, poetry requires simple, vivid imagery and descriptions that can tell a tale in shorter measure.
Famed horror author Stephen King loves poetry, saying, “it takes ordinary life, it takes things that we all see, and concentrates them in this beautiful gem.” Author Alice Walker called poetry “the lifeblood of rebellion, revolution, and the raising of consciousness.”
Link to the rest at Indies Unlimited
When PG read the OP, the name Casabianca floated into his head. (Spring floodwaters are particularly high at Casa PG this year.)
Casabianca is a poem by the English poet Felicia Dorothea Hemans, first published in 1826.
During the Victorian era in Britain and the same period in the United States, a staple of the education of young men (and maybe young women as well, although PG honestly doesn’t know for certain) was the memorization and performance of poetry. Those who lived through that experience were often able to recite poems learned in their youth well into old age.
One of the staples during the age of memorization was Casabianca. The poem combined the sort of bloodthirsty heroism and loyalty that appeals to many boys at a certain stage of their lives with regular ba-BUM, ba-BUM, ba BUM meter and unfailing rhymes at the end of each line.
Parents must have liked the idea of a boy who is loyal, reliable and remembers his responsibilities under difficult circumstances (rare though that may be in the real life of an 11-year old).
The poem is short enough to quote in its entirety:
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 rolled on – he would not go,
Without his father’s word;
That father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.
He called 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 rolled on.
Upon his brow he felt their breath
And in his waving hair;
And look’d from that lone post of death,
In still yet brave despair.
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.
They wrapped the ship in splendour wild,
They caught the flag on high,
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
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.
What’s not to like for a boy? Flames, explosions, fear overcome and valiant death – it just doesn’t get any better than that (unless ice cream is involved).
In addition to Ms. Hemans’ best known work, other examples of similar poetry include, Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” Charles Wolfe’s “Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna,” W. E. Henley’s “Invictus” and Rudyard Kipling’s “If–.”
While doing a bit of research for this post, PG learned that, unfortunately, the poem has some connection to actual history.
From Find a Grave:
[Giocante Casabianca is a] folk figure.
. . . .
[The poem] was based on an actual incident during the Battle of the Nile (also known as the Battle of Abu Qir Bay), August 1, 1798. Twelve year-old Giocante was serving with his father, Captain Luc-Julien-Joseph Casabianca, aboard the French flagship L’Orient when it came under attack from Horatio Nelson’s British fleet; the ship caught fire and exploded, killing father, son, and 900 of the crew. This is all that is known of the young sailor’s life.
Link to the rest at Find a Grave