Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Charge Of The Light Brigade - by Alfred, Lord Tennyson / The Meaning of War - by Bob Atkinson

The Charge Of The Light Brigade
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Memorializing Events in the Battle of Balaclava, October 25, 1854
Written 1854
 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' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & 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 & 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 turn'd 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 & Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter'd & 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 & 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!


This battle,
one of many in the Crimea War,
was for supremacy of one nation,
or a group of nations, over another.
Fought over religion, empire, influence and pride
it formed the basis for the attainment of glory.
Two thirds of deaths in this war were from disease,
battles being a smaller part of the carnage.
Tennyson glorified war, and indirectly caused the
future deaths of many, many soldiers and civilians
by the promotion of killing as a rational act.
The need to seek glory is built into our DNA.
 Feels good, feels right, but is it?
Bob Atkinson
November, 2013

The Meaning of War
(c)2013 Bob Atkinson

sickness raged, sickness stayed
within armies of the land
tearing life from hearts of men
dressed as gentlemen, fancy caps
tokens of their own design
for which they gladly died
in strange lands for different reasons
religion, stupidity and pride
fare thee well those of Enniskillen
you bravely go to death
stories folded into time
with saber or with long lance
dragoons and horsemen, those of cannon
fighting for Victoria's figurehead
red and green and gray suit coats
flags waved upon pole staffs
Lord Raglan wanted victory
against Russia's southern march
opposed by those who held great pride
years ago, in Napoleon's rout
yet freedom didn't reign as thought
in his country of past conquest
where death, destruction, devastation
drooled from mouths of warrior men
Meshikov commanded opposition
some saw this as battle for
religion, that sweet jewel of man
which rots your teeth down to the core

displayed pride herein contained
pushing an empire on the run
beaten down by circumstance
and by the force of gun
 when nations disagree
they struggle as if two men
black eyes become the dying
foes are made of friends

battles grind the souls of men
into that jellied mud thickly spread
pushing lives into the brink
taking the future from our children

this was one of many fights
in the Crimean war of shame
some won, some lost some came away
 in agony and with pain

six hundred fought in this group
brave, though under fire
from all sides of a narrow valley
pushed to their death by pride

light cavalry, not a heavy force
no punch brought for to stay
just charge and find where the enemy
is strong and where they'll break

pride of country, pride of army
pride of the marching man
pride of soldiers astride their mounts
pride of wicked saints of sin

pride of those who gave bad orders
pride of those confused by orders unclear
pride of those who guessed where
to attack an enemy from the rear

fighting for those values all
so close held to their vest
mother, country, attitude
or orders from true gents

with unwillingness to divest
in barbaric travesty
or in destiny of purpose
whatever stood as consequence

minds made only to conquer
whatever lay in front
with guns of fire held in the hand
or saber thrusts at hearts

here in a land so far from home
must prove what could be done
with blazing cannon shooting down
those advancing or on the run

so, six hundred charged the valley
wrong valley here they went
under fire of cannon's thunder
fire from rifles aimed at chests

a brave thing to do
charge on orders given in the dark
a brave thing to do
give up your soul to ambitious tarts

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