• "Desire" by Helen Hoyt
  • A Ride for Liberty—The Fugitive Slaves
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Humanistic Thinking
  • Chapter 2: Growth, Obstacles, and Grit
  • Chapter 3: Individual, Collective, and Identity
  • Chapter 4: Time, Memory, and Impermanence
  • Ontological Exploration on Virtue 1
  • Chapter 5: Life, Death, and Loss
  • Chapter 6: Faith, Knowledge, and Inquiry
  • Chapter 7: Freedom, Law, and Responsibility
  • Ontological Exploration on Virtue 2
  • Chapter 8: Truth, Error, and Perception
  • Chapter 9: Strength, Humility, and Meekness
  • Chapter 10: Talent, Skill, and Creativity
  • Epilogue
  • Download
  • Translations
  • The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson


    Alfred, Lord Tennyson composed this poem in a few short minutes in 1854. The poem narrates the British charge of the Light Brigade, a failed military campaign during the Crimean War. During this maneuver, the brigade misunderstood the command of their commander-in-chief, charging directly into gunfire and great casualty. The poem highlights the brigade's dedication to obedience to orders over their own success and perhaps better judgment. 

    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 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 sabres bare,
    Flashed as they turned in air
    Sabring the gunners there,
    Charging an army, while
       All the world wondered.
    Plunged in the battery-smoke
    Right through 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.

    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.
    Honour the charge they made!
    Honour the Light Brigade,
       Noble six hundred!

    Reflection Questions

    1. How do you negotiate the honor for the bravery of the light brigade and their tragic ruin recounted in this poem? 
    2. What components of this poem contribute to its overall success or failure? 
    3. How does this poem represent a negotiation between freedom and law? 

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    Access it online or download it at https://ensign.edtechbooks.org/new/the_charge_of_the_light_brigade_lord_alfred_tennyson.