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Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

The Charge of the Light Brigade


I
              1Half a league, half a league,
              2    Half a league onward,
              3All in the valley of Death
              4    Rode the six hundred.
              5`Forward, the Light Brigade!
              6Charge for the guns!' he said:
              7Into the valley of Death
              8    Rode the six hundred.

II
              9`Forward, the Light Brigade!'
            10Was there a man dismay'd?
            11Not tho' the soldier knew
            12    Some one had blunder'd:
            13Their's not to make reply,
            14Their's not to reason why,
            15Their's but to do and die:
            16Into the valley of Death
            17    Rode the six hundred.

III
            18Cannon to right of them,
            19Cannon to left of them,
            20Cannon in front of them
            21    Volley'd and thunder'd;
            22Storm'd at with shot and shell,
            23Boldly they rode and well,
            24Into the jaws of Death,
            25Into the mouth of Hell
            26    Rode the six hundred.

IV
            27Flash'd all their sabres bare,
            28Flash'd as they turn'd in air
            29Sabring the gunners there,
            30Charging an army, while
            31    All the world wonder'd:
            32Plunged in the battery-smoke
            33Right thro' the line they broke;
            34Cossack and Russian
            35Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
            36    Shatter'd and sunder'd.
            37Then they rode back, but not
            38    Not the six hundred.

V
            39Cannon to right of them,
            40Cannon to left of them,
            41Cannon behind them
            42    Volley'd and thunder'd;
            43Storm'd at with shot and shell,
            44While horse and hero fell,
            45They that had fought so well
            46Came thro' the jaws of Death,
            47Back from the mouth of Hell,
            48All that was left of them,
            49    Left of six hundred.

VI
            50When can their glory fade?
            51O the wild charge they made!
            52    All the world wonder'd.
            53Honour the charge they made!
            54Honour the Light Brigade,
            55    Noble six hundred!

Notes

1] Author's note: "This poem (written at Farringford, and published in The Examiner, Dec. 9, 1854) was written after reading the first report of the Times correspondent, where only 607 sabres are mentioned as having taken part in this charge (Oct. 25, 1854). Drayton's Agincourt was not in my mind; my poem is dactylic, and founded on the phrase, "Some one had blundered."

At the request of Lady Franklin I distributed copies among our soldiers in the Crimea and the hospital at Scutari. The charge lasted only twenty-five minutes. I have heard that one of the men, with the blood streaming from his leg, as he was riding by his officer, said, `Those d--d heavies will never chaff us again,' and fell down dead." (p. 369).


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Alfred Lord Tennyson, Poems, ed. Hallam Lord Tennyson and annotated by Alfred Lord Tennyson (London: Macmillan, 1908), II, 225-27.
First publication date: 1854
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/1/10

Composition date: 1854
Rhyme: varying


Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson