The Charge of the Light Brigade by Tennyson "The charge of the light brigade" by Tennyson was written about a
disastrous military escapade during the Crimean war.
The Crimean war was fought between Russia on one hand and Britain,
France and Turkey on the other. The charge of the light brigade
occurred in November 1854 at Balaclava in the Crimea. The Earl of
Cardigan led the charge, and some six hundred cavalrymen took part in
it. The brave 600 rode straight down a valley that was fortified at
its end by many cannon served by Russian and Cossack gunners. The
heroes were following confused orders from higher military authority
as the rode into this "valley of death."
Tennyson was appointed Poet Laureate by Queen Victoria in 1850, a job
that was a much respected during the days of the Victorian Empire,
unlike today, where it is simply awarded as a title.
This poem was written retrospectively in commemoration of those who
had died, "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon was written for a
similar purpose, commemorating those who had died in the outbreak on
world war one.
The title explicitly tells us what the poem is about, "The charge of
the light brigade." Each numbered verse of the poem describes a
different part of events, so it is almost as if the poem is following
a narrative like a story, with verse one establishing both setting and
context. The first two lines, "Half a league, half a league, Half a
Creates a steady rhythm, which is meant to imitate the sound of the
horses' hooves. From the very beginning of the poem, a solemn tone is
established by Tennyson, by describing the valley as "The valley of
The focus is almost entirely on how it happened, not why it happened.
The emphasis is not on the individual, but rather on the brigade as a
whole, and their collective heroism and sacrifice for their country.
Direct speech is used "Forward the Light Brigade! Charge for the
guns!" To create a sense of immediacy, to allow you to picture what
was actually happening. Exclamatory statements are used to put
emphasis on the ideas of excitement and their collective power.
The instructions given seem incredibly stupid, "Charge for the guns!
He said;" Because it is obvious to the reader that there is no way
that a brigade of horseback soldiers will be able to compete when
faced with cannons. These instructions seem completely irrational,
with the results only able to be horrific losses to the Light Brigade.
The semi colon at the end of the line is there to allow the reader a
pause to take in this shocking instruction.
Verse two begins by repeating the instruction to go forth into the
valley. It is followed by the rhetorical question "Was there a man...