On This Day

Oct 25, 2019 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team


On October 25, 1854, history was made in a tucked away corner of eastern Europe called Crimea. In that area during that time, the Crimean War, the first conflict covered by modern reporting techniques, was raging. The struggle pitted East against West. Western Europe felt threatened by Russia in the east, especially with its increasing interest in Turkey. Eventually a fierce war ensued.

Today the war is remembered for a number of reasons. Florence Nightingale, for example, carried her skill in nursing to the battlefields and tended to the injured. Defending the city as a Russian artillery officer, Leo Tolstoy became known to the world through the vivid descriptions he wrote of the Siege of Sevastopol, which he titled “Sevastopol Sketches” (Andrews). Undoubtedly one of the most memorable events of the fighting is the ill-fated “Charge of the Light Brigade.” Memorialized by Alfred, Lord Tennyson in his titular poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” the verse recalls the bravery and tragic deaths of the light brigade soldiers who followed their commanding officer’s directions to attack the Russians by charging into a valley, even knowing it would likely lead to their deaths.

The Charge of the Light Brigade occurred during the Battle of Balaclava. To mark that important moment in history, share this poem with your students. Included in Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization, it is a gripping retelling of that awful moment in history.

                                    The Charge of the Light Brigade
                                        by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

                                    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 dismayed?
                                    Not though the soldier knew
                                       Someone had blundered.
                                       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 right of them,
                                    Cannon to left of them,
                                    Cannon in front of them
                                       Volleyed and thundered;
                                    Stormed at with shot and shell,
                                    Boldly they rode and well,
                                    Into the jaws of Death,
                                    Into the mouth of hell
                                       Rode the six hundred.


                                    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 through the line they broke;
                                    Cossack and Russian
                                    Reeled from the sabre stroke
                                       Shattered and sundered.
                                    Then they rode back, but not
                                       Not the six hundred.


                                    Cannon to right of them,
                                    Cannon to left of them,
                                    Cannon behind them
                                       Volleyed and thundered;
                                    Stormed at with shot and shell,
                                    While horse and hero fell.
                                    They that had fought so well
                                    Came through 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 wondered.
                                    Honour the charge they made!
                                    Honour the Light Brigade,
                                       Noble six hundred!

For even more poetry, gripping, humorous, or somber, check out Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization. It contains a wealth of rich poetry ripe for reading, memorizing, and strengthening your student’s linguistic lexicon.



                                                                                         Works Cited

                             Andrews, Evan. “8 Things You May Not Know About the Crimean War.” History.com, A&E
                                        Television Networks, 30 Mar. 2016,

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