Charge of the light brigade

Posted: February 6, 2010 in Lit., Quotes
Tags: , , , ,

One of the very few poems that I knew by heart as a child. Other than the prescribed texts, of course. The only other one I clearly remember is this one by Rabindranath Thakur.

Watching ‘The Blind Side‘ last weekend brought this to memory. The passionate manner in which the Sean Tuohy character recites the poem reminded me of the similar, rather much more, passion with which I use to recite this by myself. And how I took it’s message of honour, of betrayal, even a bit of self-destruction to heart back then.

I liked the meaning that Michael Oher derived from his understanding of the poem – of trust, honour and responsibility, not just by the soldiers, but equally (if not more so) by the management & leadership.

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 soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & 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 & 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 & Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter’d & 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 & 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!

– Lord Alfred Tennyson

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