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Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote the Charge of the Light Brigade in early December 1854, some two months after the British cavalry had assaulted the Russian guns at Balaclava in the Crimea. News travelled more slowly in those days and he had recently read reports of the engagement in the Times Newspaper which though critical, β€œthe British soldier will do his duty even to certain death, and is not paralysed by the feeling he is the victim of some hideous blunder,” could not disguise their admiration for the common soldiers involved and like all good patriots Tennyson too felt his blood stirred and his pride soar at their courage and dedication to orders. 
It is only fitting that a Poet Laureate should write of such things and his words were pivotal in turning a military catastrophe into an epic of British history to stand alongside Agincourt, Trafalgar, Waterloo, the Somme, Dunkirk and so many, many others: 
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. 
"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: 
Theirs not to make reply, 
Theirs not to reason why, 
Theirs but to do and die: 
Into the Valley of Death 
Rode the six hundred. 
 
Cannon to the right of them, 
Cannon to the left of them 
Cannon in front of them 
Volley'd and thunder'd; 
Storm'd at with shot and shell, 
Boldly they rode and well, 
Into the Valley of Death, 
Into the mouth of Hell 
Rode the six hundred. 
 
Flash'd all their sabres bare, 
Flash'd as they turned in air, 
Sabring the gunners there, 
Charging an army, while 
All the world wonder'd: 
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 the right of them, 
Cannon to the left of them, 
Cannon behind them 
Volley'd and thunder'd; 
Stormed 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. 
Tagged as: Poetry, Victorian
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