The Charge of the Light Brigade

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Original Text
Alfred Lord Tennyson, Poems, ed. Hallam Lord Tennyson and annotated by Alfred Lord Tennyson (London: Macmillan, 1908), II, 225-27.
2    Half a league onward,
3All in the valley of Death
4    Rode the six hundred.
5`Forward, the Light Brigade!
6Charge for the guns!' he said:
7Into the valley of Death
8    Rode the six hundred.
9`Forward, the Light Brigade!'
10Was there a man dismay'd?
11Not tho' the soldier knew
12    Some one had blunder'd:
13Their's not to make reply,
14Their's not to reason why,
15Their's but to do and die:
16Into the valley of Death
17    Rode the six hundred.
18Cannon to right of them,
19Cannon to left of them,
20Cannon in front of them
21    Volley'd and thunder'd;
22Storm'd at with shot and shell,
23Boldly they rode and well,
24Into the jaws of Death,
25Into the mouth of Hell
26    Rode the six hundred.
27Flash'd all their sabres bare,
28Flash'd as they turn'd in air
29Sabring the gunners there,
30Charging an army, while
31    All the world wonder'd:
32Plunged in the battery-smoke
33Right thro' the line they broke;
34Cossack and Russian
35Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
36    Shatter'd and sunder'd.
37Then they rode back, but not
38    Not the six hundred.
39Cannon to right of them,
40Cannon to left of them,
41Cannon behind them
42    Volley'd and thunder'd;
43Storm'd at with shot and shell,
44While horse and hero fell,
45They that had fought so well
46Came thro' the jaws of Death,
47Back from the mouth of Hell,
48All that was left of them,
49    Left of six hundred.
50When can their glory fade?
51O the wild charge they made!
52    All the world wonder'd.
53Honour the charge they made!
54Honour the Light Brigade,
55    Noble six hundred!


1] Author's note: "This poem (written at Farringford, and published in The Examiner, Dec. 9, 1854) was written after reading the first report of the Times correspondent, where only 607 sabres are mentioned as having taken part in this charge (Oct. 25, 1854). Drayton's Agincourt was not in my mind; my poem is dactylic, and founded on the phrase, 'Some one had blundered.'

At the request of Lady Franklin I distributed copies among our soldiers in the Crimea and the hospital at Scutari. The charge lasted only twenty-five minutes. I have heard that one of the men, with the blood streaming from his leg, as he was riding by his officer, said, `Those d--d heavies will never chaff us again,' and fell down dead." (p. 369) Back to Line

Publication Start Year
RPO poem Editors
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition
RPO 1998.