Alfred Lord Tennyson, an English poet often regarded as the chief representative of the Victorian age in poetry, wrote “Charge of the light Brigade,” a poem to commemorate a battle bravely fought by the British troops in the Crimean War. In this poem, Tennyson expresses the deep emotions he felt after reading a newspaper in which there was an account of the Battle of Balaclava, a battle that the British lost. This poem presents a theme of courage and honor, as we can see from the author’s use of detail, diction, and imagery.
Alfred was the fourth of 12 children, born into an old Lincolnshire family. His father was a rector who sent him and two of his older brothers to the Leuth grammar school in 1815, when Alfred was only 6 years old. In 1820 Alfred returned home and under his father’s teachings he became a promising writer who, before his teens, had already composed in the styles of Alexander Pope, Sir Walter Scott, and John Milton (Encyclopedia Britannica Online School Edition, 1). When he was 13 years old, his father’s health started to deteriorate, which led to unhappiness at home and a feeling of depression in young Alfred; but he kept writing. Alfred attended Trinity College at Cambridge, where he became a member of a secret society called the Cambridge Apostles and also where he met his lifelong friend Arthur Hallam (Mazzeno, 4). While at Trinity, Alfred received the Chancellor’s gold medal with a poem called Timbooctu, which was quite an accomplishment for young Tennyson. Before Alfred could complete his education, his father died and he had to go back to his family to help support them (Encyclopedia Britannica Online School Edition, 2).
Tennyson underwent a series of events that eventually culminated in his success as a poet. The summer after Tennyson went back home from Trinity, his friend, Arthur Hallam, went to stay with him at his home where Arthur fell in love with Emily Tennyson, Alfred’s sister, and got engaged to her. Before Arthur and Emily could get married, however, Arthur died suddenly on a visit to Vienna. This shocked Tennyson severely and added to the problems and unhappiness already present at his home; he had three brothers suffering from mental illness and his works were receiving a bad reception. Yet it was in this period that he wrote some of his most characteristic work, which eventually led to his work In Memoriam, a collection of poems celebrating Hallam’s death, along with other subjects raised by his death such as Christianity, belief and doubt, friendship, God, hope, marriage, etc. (In Memoriam, 2). 1850 marked a turning point in Tennyson’s life. He got engaged to Emily Sellwood and his work, In Memoriam, got published and had great success with both reviewers and the public. It also won him Queen Victoria’s friendship and his appointment as poet laureate (Encyclopedia Britannica Online School Edition, 2-3).
Tennyson finally settled down and led a more peaceful and happy life. “After...