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Poetry Analysis Notes


The Charge of the Light Brigade
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
interpreted by Kavi Jivan [Kiwi]

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 the guns!" he said.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

"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.

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.

Flashed all their sabers bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sab'ring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Coassack and Russian
Reeled from the saber stroke
Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not,
Not the six hundred.

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.

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

Poet: Alfred, Lord Tennyson was born in 1809 and he died in 1892. He was an English poet well known during his time. He wrote during the Victorian Age. He married Emily Sarah in 1850. His father started his education and he showed great interest in poetry at an early age. He went to Trinty College and wrote some blank verse poems while he was attending the College. He joined the Spanish army with a friend, but never saw action. He wrote the poems "In Memoriam" and "The Princess." He wrote many poems but "Break, Break, Break" made him the most famous poet of his time. He was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire and lived there most of his early life. Then he moved near London where he was appointed poet laureate of Britain. He acquired a seat in the House of Lords. He continued to write poems. He died in Hazlemere, Surrey on October 6, 1892.

Vocabulary: Cossack - Russian from a particular region of Russia or a member of a group of frontiersmen of southern Russia organized as cavalry in the czarist army

Type of poem:
It's a narrative poem because it tells a story of the British cavalry.

Speaker: Alfred Tennyson, British Government

The British citizen and reader

Tone: The poem's tone is more heroic. The tone has valor and bravery. This tone illustrates a time to be of proud. There is an unsettling felling of sadness. The sadness comes from the deaths of the "Noble six hundred." The heroic tone comes from the bravery of the men fighting. It has a tone of excitement and power.

This poem is designed to illustrate the bravery in a real battle of British cavalry in the Crimean War. The poem describes the cavalry attack and battle. "The Charge of the light Brigade" poem illustrates them charging for the cannons and riding "in the battery-smoke." They broke through the lines of the Russians. Then found out their order was wrong and someone had made a blunder. They were severely outnumbered and outgunned. It was too late now they had to attack or die. They were not supposed to attack. The light brigade fired and the Russians fired back. They dived into the valley of death. Then they returned but only what was "Left of six hundred." Then Alfred Tennyson described what a glorious battle it was that made the world wonder.

Structure of poem: - free verse or traditional (more free verse than traditional)
- End Rhyme scheme different for each stanza (abcbadca
- End-Stopping lines
- Not equal stanza lengths

Examples of poetic techniques used in the poem:

"six hundred" Repetition
"All in the valley of Death"
"All the world wondered"
"reply" "why" and many other places also

Connection between the poem and the poet's life and/or times: This poem shows a real battle of British cavalry. Alfred Tennyson was in the Spanish Revolutionary army. Being the poet laureate of Britain he had it as his duties to write a poem of this battle. An order was given for a light brigade to charge an overwhelming number of Russians. They were annihilated and in minutes nearly a hundred died. Then later it was learned that the order for them to attack was a mistake.

Most memorable quote from the poem:
"Noble six hundred"

© Smelli Notes 2001