Creative Commons License
This exhibit has not been peer reviewed.  [Return to Group]  [Printer-friendly Page] 

Immortalizing War in Tennyson's "The Charge of The Light Brigade"

Matthew and Todd

General Bosquet giving orders to his staff
General Bosquet giving orders to his staff
Fenton, Roger
"The Charge of the Light Brigade" is, in modern times, known as one of the most famous of Lord Alfred Tennyson's poems, and for good reason. As discussed, its imagery, use of literary devices, and powerful message have cemented it in literary history. While not a lengthy poem by any means, the six stanzas covered all that was necessary. The fact that it was written for a politically hostile audience that not only accepted it, but cherished it, is evidence of its power.

But the talents of Tennyson are not the only reason that the "Charge" is historically important. Being one of the first poems recorded using audio recording equipment, it became one of the first poems to be immortalized in sound — spoken in the author's own voice, no less. In fact, along with such luminaries as Robert Browning and Mark Twain@, Tennyson's voice is one of the few to survive the Victorian era to date.

Regardless of medium, it's clear that generally, the Crimean War is of little interest for readers and listeners today. It is an event long removed from our own history and experiences, in an era filled with many wars and conflicts. But the subject of Tennyson's tale — the honourable and brave men of the light brigade — represent a moment in time with which we can all relate, a scenario that could have just as easily occurred in our own time, and our own wars. And in that way, Tennyson has succeeded, both through his poem, and his later recording, in immortalizing the sacrifices of those British men forever.