The Charge of the Light Brigade by Tennyson

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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

league onwards,"

Creates a steady rhythm, which is meant to imitate the sound of the

horses' hooves. From the very beginning ...

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...about the losses in the poem. His aim is to portray the courage of the

men, not to give a realistic and detailed account of events.

Although is refers slightly to military incompetence, this isn't a

satirical poem. In a position of respect as poet Laureate, he could

never have written a poem that put down the military establishment in

the way later poets such as Siegfried Sassoon did in poems such as

"base details" and "the general".

Although the purpose of the poem is to commemorate the men who died

courageously, I cannot help but feel annoyed at the lack of

responsibility that is put upon the higher ranks of the military

establishment for the tragic loss of life created by their mistake. I

would hope that in our more liberal society today, we would never

again allow such mistake to be made without questioning it.
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