The Charge of the Light Brigade – Alfred Lord Tennyson

As a little boy I was taken to the old Middletown Carnegie Library quite often by my mom who was an avid reader. I’ll admit her passion for reading was lost on me, it was to be replaced with passions of my own. After all, we are of course “Chips off the old block”, but we are not the block.

While wondering around that old library one night waiting for mom, I came across a book of poetry by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Having nothing but time on my hands I brought the book back to the table and began to flip though it’s pages. By chance I stumbled upon this poem. I must have read it a hundred times. I was fascinated. Each time I read it I was taken to a place I had never been, and to a time that could never be again.

By the end of the night I had found my own passion, for poetry and history.

So without further delay I thought I would share with you one of the first poems I ever read, the first poem I ever memorized, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did all those years ago:

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 soldiers knew
  Some one had blunder’d:
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.

Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon in front of them
  Volley’d and 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 turned 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 and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke
Shatter’d and 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 and 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!

—Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Click here for the Wiki article on The Charge of the Light Brigade.