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Tennyson: The Charge of the Light Brigade

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Alex Almond

on 10 February 2014

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Transcript of Tennyson: The Charge of the Light Brigade

Alfred Lord Tennyson
The Author:
General Overview
Alfred Lord Tennyson had an early talent for writing

Attended Trinity College

Had a great friend in college named Haslam, and some of his poems are tributes to Haslam.

Popularity came in 1850 when he published
In Memoriam


The Light Brigade was published on October 25th, 1854

The poem was published 6 weeks after the actual event of the Crimean War in which the British Light Cavalry charged the retreating Russian Artillery

The poem emphasizes the bravery of the British

The poem had widespread popularity almost immediately after it's publishing.
The "Lord" Himself
Historical Significance
Analysis of the Poem
Tennyson: The Charge of the Light Brigade
"Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred. "
In the first few lines of the poem, Tennyson
mentions the "six hundred". This refers to the British Light Cavalry led by Lord Cardigan in the Crimean War. The valley of death is an omen of an unfortunate future that lies ahead.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew

Someone had blunder’d:
Their’s not to make reply,
Their’s not to reason why,
Their’s but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
In this section of the poem Tennyson focuses on the "mantra" of a soldier. A soldier must follow orders and leave fear behind. He must express bravery and fortitude. However, he also criticizes the bad decisions of a leader. The soldiers are in no position to object to their leader even if the leader makes a mistake. This video has a relateble analogy.
Rode the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
At this part of the poem we realize the details of the situation the soldiers are facing. We know that they are stuck between a rock and a hard place: they are surrounded by artillery.

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Their’s
not to
make
reply,
Dactyllic
Their’s
not to
reason
why, aka A stressed syllable followed by two unstressed
Their’s
but to
do
and die:
Dimeter
Into the valley of Death Two ephazsized syllables per line
Rode the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;




Plunged in the battery-
smoke

A

Right thro’ the line they
broke;

A
Cossack and
Russian

B
Reel’d from the sabre-
stroke

A
Shatter’d and
sunder’d.

C
Then they rode back, but
not

D
Not the six
hundred.

C
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and
shell
,
A
While horse and hero
fell
,
A
They that had fought so
well A
Came thro’ the jaws of
Death,

B
Back from the mouth of
Hell
,
A
All that was left of
them
,
C
Left of six
hundred
.
D

Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.
Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder’d:
This passage paints the picture of the battle and how the soldiers die. They are hopelessly outgunned, armed with only
soldiers.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
At this point we realize that they heroically broke the Russian cannon line but not without suffering many causalities.
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.
When can their glory fade ?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder’d.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!
In the final lines of the poem we see the foreshadowed fate of the cavalry play out as many die. However their legacy lives on forever..... "When can their glory fade?'
Structure Examined
This poem is a narrative poem. This simply means that was written about a story, in this case a historical event. It is typically metered, as seen in these stanzas.
Rhyme Scheme
You could say that The poem "in general" rhymes because the rhyme scheme is irregular. I have examined two different sequences in the poem here.
Sources
http://espemo2.blogs.uv.es/second-paper/the-charge-of-the-light-brigade/analysis/

Used for analysis of the poem's structure
Used for information on Tennyson
http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/300
http://www.nationalcenter.org/ChargeoftheLightBrigade.html
Used for historical significance
and background
Full transcript