Charge of the Light Brigade

Rhythm and Repetition: Bringing the Lines to Life
In Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” a glorious charge in the midst of the Crimean War of 1854 is dramatically illustrated and brought to life.   Seemingly simple at first glance, the poem describes a failed battle charge, but the emotions of the charge and the ultimate heroic nature of the Light Brigade’s attack stand out as well.   The use of rhythm and repetition in “The Charge of the Light Brigade” intensifies to the reader the violence of the battle, the loyalty of the troops, and the futility of the unwavering charge against overwhelming odds.
Clearly the author realized the power of repetition of certain words and phrases to instill his perspective of the battle into the reader’s mind.   One of the most prevalent uses of repetition is the word “death.”   According to Tennyson, The Light Brigade charges “into the valley of Death” (line 7) and “into the jaws of Death” (24) on several occasions.   The use of this repetitious phrasing, an allusion to the Bible, helps paint a bleak picture of a charge doomed from the beginning.
The last line of each stanza contains one of the most prevalent uses of repetition in the poem.   The first three stanzas’ ending lines, “Rode the six hundred” (8, 17, 26), establish the dedication of the whole brigade to the charge.   In the fourth stanza where the charge reaches the enemy lines and engages in combat only to be “shatter’d and sunder’d” (36), the brigade is forced to retreat.   During the retreat phase, the attacking brigade flees, but “Not the six hundred” (38).   This subtle one-word change serves as a stark contrast between the steady charge and the bloody retreat, while also illustrating the grievous losses suffered by the attackers.   The fifth stanza portrays a shattered retreating army as “All that was left of them / left of six hundred” (48, 49) turn and ride back to safety.   The sixth and final stanza continues the repetition but refers to the...