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Heart BeatsEveryday Life and the Memorized Poem$
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Catherine Robson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691119366

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691119366.001.0001

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Felicia Hemans, “Casabianca”

Felicia Hemans, “Casabianca”

Felicia Hemans, “Casabianca”
Heart Beats

Catherine Robson

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the poem, “Casabianca,” by Felicia Hemans, which presents the spectacle of a child sailor who is blown to pieces because his sense of duty keeps him standing on deck during the bombardment of his ship. This poem is used as a lens to examine the processes whereby the performance of poetry in Britain's elementary schools forged short-term and long-term bodily relationships between individuals and measured language. Looking, among other things, at the history of corporal punishment within mass education, the chapter considers not only what happened to children, but also to poems with regular rhythms, during the process of enforced recitation. The fragmented survival of “Casabianca” in popular consciousness today, this chapter argues, is the last remaining trace of its pedagogical past, of a time when poetry was experienced in and through the body.

Keywords:   Casabianca, Felicia Hemans, physical experience, elementary schools, bodily relationships, corporal punishment, regular rhythms, measured language

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