illustration of a soldier in traditional nineteenth century military garb

The Charge of the Light Brigade

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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What verbs and adjectives describe the actual combat of the soldiers in the poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Lord Tennyson?

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You would do well to read through this famous and excellent poem yourself to identify the fight scene. This occurs in the fourth stanza, and pay attention to how the diction (word choice) emphasises the bravery and courage of the soldiers who were part of this famous charge in the Crimean War:

Flashed all their sabres bare,

Flashed as they turned in air

Sabring the gunners there,

Charging an army, while

All the world wondered.

Plunged in the battery-smoke

Right thro' the line they broke;

Cossack and Russian

Reeled from the sabre-stroke

Shattered and sundered.

Clearly Tennyson is highlighting their bravery and prowess in the heat of battle. They are said to charge an entire "army" and their sabres are described as "flashing" in the light as they attack. The whole world (an apposite use of hyperbole) is said to "wonder" at this sight. They "plunge" into the smoke and "break" through the line of enemies. Their enemies are described as "reeling" from the onslaught and are "shattered and sundered." Clearly the soldiers who participated in this most famous of military charges were immensely effective, and yet in spite of this effectiveness we are left to question the meaning of honour, bravery and valour when the price in human life is just so terribly high.

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