"The Charge of the Light Brigade"1
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)


1   Half a league, half a league, 2  
2      Half a league onward, 
3   All in the valley of Death 
4      Rode the six hundred. 
5   'Forward, the Light Brigade! 
6   Charge for the guns!' he said: 
7   Into the valley of Death 
8      Rode the six hundred. 


9   'Forward, the Light Brigade!' 
10   Was there a man dismay'd? 
11   Not tho' the soldier knew 
12      Some one had blunder'd: 
13   Their's not to make reply, 
14   Their's not to reason why, 
15   Their's but to do and die: 
16   Into the valley of Death 
17      Rode the six hundred. 


18   Cannon to right of them, 
19   Cannon to left of them, 
20   Cannon in front of them 
21      Volley'd and thunder'd; 
22   Storm'd at with shot and shell, 
23   Boldly they rode and well, 
24   Into the jaws of Death, 
25   Into the mouth of Hell 
26      Rode the six hundred. 


27   Flash'd all their sabres bare, 
28   Flash'd as they turn'd in air 
29   Sabring the gunners there, 
30   Charging an army, while 
31      All the world wonder'd: 
32   Plunged in the battery-smoke 
33   Right thro' the line they broke; 
34   Cossack and Russian 
35   Reel'd from the sabre-stroke 
36      Shatter'd and sunder'd. 
37   Then they rode back, but not 
38      Not the six hundred. 3 


39   Cannon to right of them, 
40   Cannon to left of them, 
41   Cannon behind them 
42      Volley'd and thunder'd; 
43   Storm'd at with shot and shell, 
44   While horse and hero fell, 
45   They that had fought so well 
46   Came thro' the jaws of Death, 
47   Back from the mouth of Hell, 
48   All that was left of them, 
49      Left of six hundred. 


50   When can their glory fade? 
51   O the wild charge they made! 
52      All the world wonder'd. 
53   Honour the charge they made! 
54   Honour the Light Brigade, 
55      Noble six hundred! 


1. 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 the charge (Oct. 25, 1854). Drayton's Agincourt was not in my mind; my poem is dactyllic, 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.

2. Captain Nolan delivered the order. He rode in his saddle upright some moments after he was shot, his sword-hand uplifted, and was the first man killed. See Kinglake, vol. v. p. 220. Lord Cardigan and the Light Brigade covered a mile and a half, with Russian batteries on either hand and in front of them, before they encountered the enemy.

3. Only 195 returned.