The Charge of the Light Brigade

by ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON (1809-1892)

featuring a reading by actor, Jamie Renell

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 dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Some one 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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Tennyson served as England’s Poet Laureate from 1850 until his death. He was appointed by letters patent, a type of legal document which is an open letter issued by a monarch or government granting a right, monopoly, title, or status to someone or to an entity. In Tennyson’s case, the monarch was Queen Victoria.

The poet laureate was traditionally responsible for writing and presenting official poetry to commemorate occasions both personal (such as the monarch’s birthday, royal births and marriages), and public (coronations and military victories). This custom ceased to be obligatory after the death Henry James Pye in 1813. Upon Pye’s death, the post was held by Williams Wordsworth, followed by Tennyson.

Tennyson Contemporaries
Victor Hugo
Longfellow
Edgar Allan Poe
Robert Browning

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4 Responses

  1. Franci says:

    Hi,
    I love this reading of the poem; it is what makes this poem such a huge hit when I teach it every year. But this year I ran into a problem. Your website no longer works when I hit the play button. I have tried playing it on 3 different computers, both at work and at home, so I don’t believe that it is my connection or lack of updates. I was just letting you know so that hopefully some one can work on making sure the audio works… it is such an amazing reading. I am talking about Jamie Renell’s reading of “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” Thank you.

    • reely says:

      Hi Franci, I am sorry you had a problem playing the poem. Apparently this page was a bit out of wack because of a missing tag. I am reorganizing things and fixing errors wherever I can, so I am glad that you called this to my attention. I just played the poem. It doesn’t start until about 4 seconds in but it played. Please try again and let me know.

      Thanks so much, Reely :)

      PS – I agree about the reading. Gives me chills!

  2. Nguyen Le says:

    Hi,
    I couldn’t find the e-mail contact, so I just post it here instead.
    I’m working on one minute Kinetic Typography assignment for my Motion Graphic class, so I wonder if I could use your “The Charge of the Light Brigade” audio file, reading by Jamie Renell for my assignment. I’ve been searching around for different audio of “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, but only this one has the chill and heroic feel I’m looking for.
    Please let me know.
    Thank you.

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