4.23.2013

Half a League

Whenever happy thoughts of my mother appears in my reverie, a poem comes to mind. The Charge of the Light Brigade by Tennyson.

She was telling us a story of Tatay when he had been a judge to a declamation contest in Passi and a child came up the stage and recited that poem with a very ... wet resemblance of English diction. She would then imitate the poem from memory - bad delivery and all and we  would all burst out laughing. You have to really hear it to understand. I knew the poem but I can only recite it the way Nanay would - funny and badly.

Recently however, I was watching this Sandra Bullock movie on TV and the poem came up. And there it was explained the irony and sorrow of the soldiers who had to go to war. It was said that Tennyson wrote it just after reading about the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War.

Read the poem in that light today.

As a pawn in the sea of political humanity, you begin to wonder what honour is.


The Charge of the Light Brigade

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 dismay'd?
Not tho'(though) the soldiers knew
  Some one had blunder'd:
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
  Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
  Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
  All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
  Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' 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 wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
  Noble six hundred!
—Alfred, Lord Tennyson