Tennysons poem about the infamous action of the Light Brigade at the battle of Balaclava

My favourite Tennyson poem from the sheer drudgery of school days spent studying the more gloomy output of aforementioned poet. Why any educator could consider the study of this particular set of Tennyson's poems a means by which to inspire teenage school boys to an interest in poetry in general, is beyond me. With the lessons seemingly interminable, I suppose we could at least emphasize with Mariana's cry of "I am aweary, aweary, I would that I were dead!" - a cry I reserve now for lengthy project status or corporate update meetings.

The Charge of the Light Brigade was a welcome break. At least the pace of the prose was upbeat and it had soldiers, guns and fighting in it, etc. These days, The Charge of the Light Brigade poem still springs to mind when, during a software project, I feel beset on all sides by requirements changes, bad design decisions, ridiculous management decisions, and poorly written and completely undocumented legacy code. It has not been unknown for me to display the poem as part of my computer desktop background when working on a particularly poorly-run project.

The poem also stars in the first chapter of my book, A Practical Guide to Feature-Driven Development, as a vehicle to discuss the idea of rushing headlong into writing source code before taking adequate consideration of what needs to be achieved.

The Charge of the Light Brigade


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 and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm's at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the Jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell,
Rode the six hundred.

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.
Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon behind of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and 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!

Alfred, Lord Tennyson  (1809-1892)

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