Sunday, January 18, 2015

Poetry Sunday

With all the concern today about the Russian annexation of the Crimea and aggressive meddling in Ukraine, we often forget that the region we call the Crimea has long been bitterly contested ... it did, after all, give its name to the Crimean War of 1853-1856. That war itself is remembered today largely because of this famous poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson that tries to put a heroic shine on one of the worst military blunders in history ...

The Charge of the Light Brigade
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson


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:
the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


`Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's 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
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 turn'd 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!

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* The Light Brigade was also indirectly commemorated by Enoch Light and the Light Brigade, an orchestra popular from the late 50's to the late 70's.


Sinner Bob said...

George MacDonald Fraser wrote a book, "Flashman at the Charge" in which this was an episode.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

A stirring poem. It emphasized the heroism of the individual calvarymen but skirted who made the blunder and what was the intended result.

Big Sky Heidi said...

Was the poem written in part to deemphasize the military snafu?