Writing 201: Poetry Potluck

I was out of town this weekend so I had to do my Poetry Potluck this morning. I chose Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade” because of my middle school English class. One of our projects in 8th grade English was to memorize something from literature. There were soliloquies and monologues, the Preamble to the Constitution, and several poems. They were all ranked by difficulty. They were all worth a 100 if you got it perfect, but the longer pieces were a little more forgiving if you flubbed a word or two. I chose “The Charge of the Light Brigade” as it was in the middle as far as length and didn’t look too difficult. I also love the lines, “Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die”. Sometimes life is like that. You don’t get to make a reply or ask why. you simply roll up your sleeves and soldier on. I copied the poem below for reference and for those who may not remember it as well as I do. I can proudly say I aced the assignment.

The Charge of the Light Brigade

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
Someone had blunder’d:
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
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 wondered.
Honour the charge they made,
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

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