The Charge of the Light Brigade by Lord Alfred Tennyson

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Lord Alfred Tennyson wrote “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by hand in December 1854. The poem is about the attack of the Light Brigade on the Russians and the Battle of Balaclava, which took place in 1854. The battle was fought between Russia, Britain, Turkey and France because Russia wanted to gain control of the Dardanelles, an important British sea-route. The poem is about how heroic the soldiers were.

The Charge of the Light Brigade

BY LORD ALFRED TENNYSON

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 dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Some one had blundered:
Their’s not to make reply,
Their’s not to reason why,
Their’s but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wondered:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre-stroke
Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not,
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came through 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 wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

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Analysis of Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade”

Tennyson’s 1854 poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade” focuses on the historical attack of the Light Brigade on the Russians and the Battle of Balaclava. Tennyson tries to immortalize the soldiers through his popular work.  The poem is about fulfilling your duties under any circumstances.

The poem has a respectful tone because Tennyson had a very high regard for the men who gave up their lives for their nation despite the fact that their orders were a mistake. He feels the soldiers were heroic. The speaker is one surviving member of the Light Brigade who is trying to ensure that his fellow soldiers are remembered for their brave sacrifice they made for the nation.

Despite knowing that their mission was a complete mistake and it can cost them their lives, the Light Brigade enters the valley of death to capture the guns. They do not even complain once and they are ready to give up their lives for the country.  Threatening cannons surround them and they go to the dangerous part of the valley. They were charging an entire army and started killing the Russians and Cossacks while the world marvelled at their courage and breaking their defences while suffering casualties. Then they rode back through the valley.

They were shot at again as they left and the remainder of the Brigade returned from the valley. Tennyson urges in the last stanza that we should always honor the Light Brigade and that it will live forever in history.

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