Sandip Bhattacharya: A favorite poem

Charge of the Light Brigade
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Whenever some says Poetry, this is the first poem that springs to mind.  It is one of the poems that we had to memorize in school. There are certainly other poems that are richer in imagery or more sublime which I might count among my favorites, but this is one poem that immediately manages to evoke an era, tell a story and inspire, with its use of tight rhythmic language. Any time I read this poem, it takes me right back those classrooms – hot afternoons, studious kids bent over their desks, teachers droning on, and me slipping off quietly to fight the Battle of Balaclava.

Sandip Bhattacharya
San Jose

Charge of the Light Brigade


I
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.
II
“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.
III
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.
IV
Flashed all their sabres 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 thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
   Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
   Not the six hundred.
V
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.
VI
When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
   All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
   Noble six hundred!


Alfred, Lord Tennyson

1809-1892

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1 Comment

Filed under Favorite Poem

One response to “Sandip Bhattacharya: A favorite poem

  1. This was a favorite poem of mine in school, and one of the few that I didn’t mind memorizing. A sad but memorable poem. Thank you Sandip, for reminding me of Tennyson, and about reciting this poem. Pushpa

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