“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

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