“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting with the gift of speech.” - Simonides of Ceos

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson



Written and published in the winter of 1854, "The Charge of the Light Brigade" memorializes the story of the British soldiers who fought in the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. The battle, in which the Russian forces had soundly defeated the British, had just taken place less than two months prior when Tennyson wrote this poem. One survivor of the defeated cavalry regiment, the 11th Hussars, Private Thomas Williams, remarked later in a letter to his parents, “I could see what would be the result of it, and so could all of us; but of course, as we had got the order, it was our duty to obey. I do not wish to boast too much; but I can safely say that there was not a man in the Light Brigade that day but what did his duty to his Queen and Country.”[1] Tennyson later edited the poem and included the new version in a volume of works published in 1855. The revisions were not well received so he restored the text back to its previous iteration for subsequent printings. We have chosen to produce the original and more well-known version of this poem.

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Program Credits

Announcer: Thomas Lamar
Narrator: B.J. Harrison
Composer: Andrew Boone
Sound Design & Mixing: Andrew Riffenburgh
Artwork: Richard Caton Woodville, Jr.
Producer/Director: J.D. Sutter

Entry on Wikipedia for "The Charge of the Light Brigade"
Entry on Wikipedia for Tennyson
Tennyson's Bio at The Poetry Foundation
Wikipedia entry for the Battle of Balaclava
Alternative version of "The Charge of the Light Brigade" published in 1855

Carbon Print of Tennyson, 1869
Credit: Wikipedia

"The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I
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.

II
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
   Someone had blundered.
   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.

III
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
   Rode the six hundred.

IV
Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
   All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
   Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
   Not the six hundred.

V
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
   Left of six hundred.

VI
When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
   All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
   Noble six hundred!


[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/10776275/New-accounts-emerge-of-Charge-of-the-Light-Brigade.html

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

"The Long Hill" by Sara Teasdale



American lyric poet, Sara Teasdale, was born in 1884 in Missouri. She published her first poem in a newspaper in 1907 followed by a volume of her poetry later that year. In 1950, science fiction writer, Ray Bradbury published a short story which contained Teasdale's poem, "There Will Come Soft Rains" and Bradbury also used that as his story's title. Many of her poems have been put to music over the years, including "The Long Hill" which was recorded by the band Clifford Grooms in 2013.

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Program Credits

Announcer: Thomas Lamar
Narrator: Laura Richcreek
Composer: Conner Savoca
Sound Design & Mixing: Christopher Green
Photography: Cagatay Orhan
Producer/Director: J.D. Sutter

Entry on Wikipedia for Sara Teasdale
Sara Teasdale's Bio at Poetry Foundation
Comparison of "The Long Hill" and "Up-Hill" by Christina Rossetti
Scanned image of an early printing of the poem courtesy of Google Books

Sara Teasdale, portrait taken July 11, 1919
Photo credit: Wikimedia

"The Long Hill" by Sara Teasdale

I must have passed the crest a while ago
   And now I am going down —
Strange to have crossed the crest and not to know,
   But the brambles were always catching the hem
         of my gown.

All the morning I thought how proud I should be
   To stand there straight as a queen,
Wrapped in the wind and the sun with the world
         under me —
   But the air was dull, there was little I could
         have seen.

It was nearly level along the beaten track
   And the brambles caught in my gown —
But it's no use now to think of turning back,
   The rest of the way will be only going down.


Verses Viewpoint

The team shares their thoughts on this poem
"I found myself looking back at the last 7-13 years and felt that longing, but also a certain relaxed (resigned?) sense of self as I head into the upcoming years. It wasn't a negative feeling, but more of an, 'Ah, so this is it! Okay. I'm alright with this!'" - Laura Richcreek, narrator

"I think it has a feeling of bittersweetness. Sort of a bit of longing for days gone by, but at the same time realizing that the past is gone and one must look ahead. Then there's also a hint of apprehension about what is to come. I suppose it could also be interpreted as a look at aging and maturity too. I think it has so many layers to it despite how short it is. It really is quite a beautiful piece." - J.D. Sutter, director

Sunday, May 14, 2017

"Crossing The Bar" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson



Written in 1889, when Tennyson was about 80 years old, "Crossing The Bar" is one of his last pieces of poetry. The elegy embraces similar themes as many of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's other works as he once again uses references to the sea; this time to make his point about the ending of life on earth. Tennyson seemed to view the piece as a bookend of sorts to his work and requested that this poem be placed last in all future publications of collections of his poetry.

Click Here to Download this Program


Program Credits

Announcer: Thomas Lamar
Narrator: Todd Green
Composer: Natasha Green
Sound Design & Mixing: Christopher Green
Photography: Conrad Ziebland
Producer/Director: J.D. Sutter

Entry on Wikipedia for "Crossing the Bar"
Entry on Wikipedia for Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Tennyson's Bio on The Poetry Foundation
Summary and Analysis of "Crossing the Bar" from GradeSaver
Summary and Analysis of "Crossing the Bar" via Cambridge University website

Alfred, Lord Tennyson


"Crossing The Bar" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
      And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
      When I put out to sea,

   But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
      Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
      Turns again home.

   Twilight and evening bell,
      And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
      When I embark;

   For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
      The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
      When I have crost the bar.