Pre 1914 Poetry Comparison: Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Charge Of The
Light Brigade, and Wilfred Owen, Dulce Et Decorum Est
1) The Charge Of The Light Brigade
Tennyson was prompted to write this poem after reading an article in
the Times newspaper about the charge of the Light Brigade. Tennyson's
main motive for writing this poem seems to be to celebrate the bravery
of the troops.
Tennyson appears to be a patriot. He concentrates on the brave way the
soldiers went into near certain death and only makes one mention of
the complete cock-up made by the generals. Rather than concentrate on
the mistakes made he sticks with celebrating what the soldiers did
'When can their glory fade?' he asks. The use of the rhetorical is
almost challenging you to disagree with his opinion of the soldiers'
Tennyson uses a lot of things like onomatopoeia, repetition and
alliteration. He uses repetition to try and show, in words, the
confusion of the battle. An example of this is 'Cannon to right of
them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them'. He uses all of
these things to try and create imagery of the battle, to help try and
imagine what the battle was like. However what he doesn't do is he
doesn't personalise he always generalises. He gives you a picture of
the battle without actually giving accounts of the actions of the men.
The pace of the poem is the same all the way through except for one
point at the end of the fourth verse. For most of the poem the pace is
quite fast, with a rhythm comparable to the clatter of horses hooves
(on purpose or by accident?). But near the end of the fourth verse,
after speaking of the battle and the slaughter of many men, the pace
slows for about one line. 'Then they rode back, but not, Not the six
hundred.' The pause between 'back' and 'but' is cleverly used to
emphasise the loss of life.
An image that recurs a lot in the poem is personification of the
valley into which the Light Brigade rode into some kind of monster, a
devourer of human life. The phrases 'the jaws of Death' and 'mouth of
Hell' are used more than once, an important piece of imagery.
Alfred Lord Tennyson did not have first hand experience of the battle
and it shows in the poem. The Charge Of The Light Brigade is very
generalised, with the word 'them' constantly being used. No actions or
fate of any specific soldier is mentioned; it's always soldiers rather
My personal reaction to his poem is that it would have been better for