On This Day

December 9, 1854 – The Examiner prints Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” which commemorates the courage of 600 British soldiers charging a heavily defended position during the Battle of Balaklava, in the Crimea, just six weeks earlier.

The Charge of the Light Brigade

BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON

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 
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. 

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!

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