'The Charge of the Light Brigade'

A poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892), first published in The Examiner in 1854. Tennyson became Poet Laureate in 1850, and part of his function was to commemorate major national events. In 1854, during the Crimean War, a disastrous military engagement took place at Balaclava. The poem pays tribute to a brigade of valiant British soldiers, who obeyed their commander’s instructions to attack Russian troops. Unfortunately Lord Raglan’s orders were misinterpreted: the men were sent in the wrong direction, into ‘the jaws of Death’ and ‘the mouth of Hell’, resulting in a massacre. Tennyson’s pounding, relentless verse celebrates the soldiers' heroism, and conveys the dramatic pace and sound of battle.

Creator:
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Published:
1854
Forms:
Poem
Genre:
Victorian Literature
Literary period:
Victorian

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‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’: making poetry from war

Article by
Seamus Perry
Theme: 
Victorian poetry

Dr Seamus Perry explains how Tennyson transformed a catastrophic episode in the Crimean war into one of the 19th-century’s most successful poems, using rhythm, repetition and vocabulary to convey both the folly of the cavalry charge and the bravery of the soldiers.

Tennyson’s rise and fall

Article by
Stephanie Forward
Theme: 
Victorian poetry

When Tennyson died in 1892, 11,000 people applied for tickets to his funeral in Westminster Abbey. Dr Stephanie Forward considers the poet's huge popularity in the second half of the 19th century, and the decline of his reputation in the 20th.

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Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade: A Close Reading

Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade: A Close Reading

A close reading of Tennyson's 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'.

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