Tuesday, October 25, 2011


The Charge Of The Light Brigade

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Memorializing Events in the Battle of Balaclava, October 25, 1854
Written 1854

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
Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & 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
Volley'd & thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd 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 & Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter'd & sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse & 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!

Note: This poem, including punctuation, is reproduced from a scan of the poem written out by Tennyson in his own hand in 1864. The scan was made available online by the University of Virginia.


Martha said...

I like this poem and memorized it in high school -- brought back memories!

Kathy said...

I saw this in this morning's Writer's Almanac. My 14-year old is intrigued enough to want to look into the story.

David V said...

Let's not forget Agincourt!

Toad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Toad said...

David, you are correct. I forgot St. Crispin of all people,

Anonymous said...

Dear Toad:

Are you aware of the Crimean War’s effect on the U.S.A, a war that the Russians arguably only lost because they were still armed with obsolete flintlocks?

Tsar Alexander who succeeded his father several years after that war was an admirer of Lincoln. He thought so much of Lincoln that he was inspired to free his serfs. More importantly, Russia was a military ally of the Union during the war with the Confederacy.

It is not an accident that the Confederate flag bears a resemblance to the British flag. The South had hopes that the UK would enter the war on there side because English textile factories were sitting idle for lack of cotton that could not reach England because of the Union navel blockade. When asked about a skirmish with a British blockade-runner (Ships for the Confederacy were being built in the UK on credit from the Bank of England), Lincoln replied, “One war at a time”.

Tsar Alexander knew that if the war were won by the Confederacy with open British military aid, Russian America would be in severe jeopardy. He therefore stationed flotillas of the Russian Imperial Fleet in New York and San Francisco harbors to block any greater British aid to the Confederacy. In 1860, the price for Alaska was going to be two million dollars, but to compensate for the navel aid the price went to six million in 1867.

Just what was that second war that Lincoln was thinking of? Well considering how much aid the Confederacy was getting by way of Canada, what do you think? Would Lincoln have followed “The Monroe Doctrine” and “Manifest Destiny” to invade Canada with Russian aid? It would have punished Britain for its aid to the Confederacy and secured Alaska for Russia. However, we will never know because after his stay in Canada John Wilkes Booth traveled to Washington and murdered Lincoln. Probably the same Booth who’s will was probated decades later in the British colony of India, where he escaped.

I hope that this is a lesson to Anglophiles that the Brits are not as grand as you think they are.

Ref. “Lincoln and the Russians”

Anonymous said...

I love what I learn here. I read everything, look both ways, and come out ahead when I keep my mouth closed.


Toad said...

Thank you for the history lesson. More on the Russian flag and southern US flag history may be gleaned from the archives.