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Let's start with the first line just to get a feel for the rhythm:

Half a league, half a league,

If you read that slowly, you can probably hear that you stress the word half more than the other words in that line, right?

Half a league, half a league,

So the rhythm sounds like this: DUM-da-da-DUM-da-da

Let's see if that same rhythm holds for other lines. Here is the first line of stanza two:

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”

Indeed, this has the same sort of rhythm. We are stressing the first part of the word forward and the word light:

Forward, the Light Brigade!”

We end up with that same rhythm: DUM-da-da-DUM-da-da

Let's try once more. Here are some lines from the third stanza:

Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
Again, we hear this same rhythm: DUM-da-da-DUM-da-da
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
A metrical foot is determined by how many syllables are grouped together in these patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables. Here's how it typically looks when divided into metrical feet:
Boldly they / rode and well,
Each metrical foot in our examples has three syllables, and the stressed syllable comes first (followed by two less stressed or quieter syllables), making it dactylic.
Then we need to count how many sets of feet are in each line. In our example above, we have two sets ("Boldly they" and "rode and well"). When there are two metrical feet in a line, we call that dimeter.
So if we put all that together, the meter for "Charge of the Light Brigade" is dactylic dimeter. This isn't a perfect meter for the entire poem (some lines only have five syllables, for example), but overall, the meter holds.
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

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