Half a league onward, all in the valley of death rode the six hundred!
I have to admit, I am duly excited about the prospects of teaching my sixth graders about Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade. In the midst of the all the state requirements and the TEKS number, and all manner of muddled instructions from the state powers that be, I found something to get excited about since the poem is one of my favorites. That’s not saying much, since I’m not much of a poetry buff. I would say my list of favorite poems would be about two, unless you count the Psalms, then the number of favorite poems would be about 152.
But when it comes to Tennyson’s tribute to those men who bravely charged forward on that day in the 1850s… because they were told to, you have to admire the respect, courage and acceptance. I’m not sure if Tennyson was or was not a Christian. But the 600 men, were responding obediently to their superiors even to the point of death. In that, there is something noble and grand, which Tennyson points out in the last stanza of his poem, memorializing their charge into the Cossacks. The men, in one sense, emulated Christ who did the very same thing on a the cross 2,000 years ago. He went and laid down His life because someone told Him to. I’m not trying to spiritualize the poem, just noting the similarities.
The point is that I do look forward to sharing it with my students and I hope to encourage a few of them to memorize it (which in the state of Texas is a teaching sin, so I’ve been told). I’m not requiring them to do so, but will give extra credit to those who do memorize it on their first test. I checked with my department head and was told that this is perfectly acceptable.
I also plan on showing the following video to help them see the influence the poem still has today. This is from The Blind Side.
One of the reasons I included the videos here is because I cannot show videos directly from Youtube. But I can from my blog, so I’m actually doing school work while I write this… on my own time… not at school… so I’m not violating any rules. (Just want to be clear).
Here is the full poem:
Half a league, half a league,Half a league onward,All in the valley of DeathRode the six hundred.“Forward, the Light Brigade!Charge for the guns!” he said.Into the valley of DeathRode the six hundred.II“Forward, the Light Brigade!”Was there a man dismayed?Not though the soldier knewSomeone had blundered.Theirs not to make reply,Theirs not to reason why,Theirs but to do and die.Into the valley of DeathRode the six hundred.
IIICannon to right of them,Cannon to left of them,Cannon in front of themVolleyed and thundered;Stormed at with shot and shell,Boldly they rode and well,Into the jaws of Death,Into the mouth of hellRode the six hundred.
IVFlashed all their sabres bare,Flashed as they turned in airSabring the gunners there,Charging an army, whileAll the world wondered.Plunged in the battery-smokeRight through the line they broke;Cossack and RussianReeled from the sabre strokeShattered and sundered.Then they rode back, but notNot the six hundred.
VCannon to right of them,Cannon to left of them,Cannon behind themVolleyed and thundered;Stormed at with shot and shell,While horse and hero fell.They that had fought so wellCame through the jaws of Death,Back from the mouth of hell,All that was left of them,Left of six hundred.
VIWhen 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!