Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck. Picking His Brain and Wondering, Why?

The boy stood on the burning deck, picking his nose….. No hang on that’s not right. My schoolboy recollections of one the famous and most recognised lines in literature are a little different than the original. “Whence all but he had fled” thats it.. The name of the poem and the story behind it is often forgotten. The poem is Casablanca written by Felicia Hemans, it was first published in 1826.

Giocante was the boy who inspired the poem. His father was Captain Luc-Julian-Joseph de Casablanca. His ship L’Orient was the flagship of Napoleons fleet at the Battle of the Nile.
In Aboukir Bay off Egypt Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson attacked the French ships and the three decks 120 gun L’Orient was set ablaze.

The poem recalls how Giocante refused to leave his post until he gained his fathers permission even though his father is already dead.
The fire is to ignite the ships store of gunpowder and a massive explosion throws parts of the ship all over the Bay.

The poem was published in a periodical called The Monthly Magazine.
They did not discover the carcass of the wreckage till 1983 scattered over more than half a square mile.
Giocante was thought to be all but 12, that was five years older than the vessel he stood upon.

The mast of L’Orient was used as the timber to make the coffin for Nelson who died seven years later at the Battle of Trafalgar.
We commemorate Trafalgar in the Docks of the same name which were filled in by Grosvenor with all the millions of tons of rubble dug out, which is now the car park below Chavasse Lawn, (How did they get away with that).

Liverpool Mercantile and Maritime World Heritage City it seems a bit surreal.
What is even more surreal is that Felicia Hemans house in the world heritage site on Lower Duke Street is standing there falling down along with many, many more of our original Georgian stock. Hanging on a forlorn hope while we continue to build high tensile shopping malls.
What a way to recall our Maritime History by disregarding it. The Duke Street area is still in a precarious state of repair (both pictures are taken fom the same spot) and a lot of hope for the future is now credit crunched along with a lot of our maritime history.

Have a look at the excellent and well thought out site above Save Liverpool Docks.

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