Tennyson and His Views
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Tennyson and his views
Alfred Lord Tennyson. A poet in Britain from 1850 to the day of his death, he was a poet among poets, writing amazing works since the age of 12. For many years, Tennysons poetry has attracted readers. He was an inspirational and creative poet, but the poem “The Charge Of The Light Brigade” in modern eyes, has dragged Tennysons reputation as a poet down. Tennyson wrote this poem as a piece for the Queen, she had specially requested it of him to be used in newspapers and to be spread across the country for the sole purpose of inspiring young adults to believe that joining their countries armed services was the best prospect their lives had ever received. The content, the theme and the output of the poem disgrace the use of poetry. Poetry is not meant used for propaganda, to fool people into doing something, to teach people false ideals. The idea of the opportunity to serve their country on the front lines of war, and to support their brothers in arms against the enemy is delusional.
Tennysons attitude to war is not truly reflected in this poem, although his personal touches of his own patriotic mindset can be found. Tennysons opinions, however, are reflected in the poem, his views on the stature of Britain and its empire, its conquests and the men who fight for Britains honor. Tennyson views these men as heroes, martyrs. He exemplifies these men and their character.
“Honor the Light Brigade.”
Tennyson in the last stanza, tells us to honor them, to show our respects for their loss but to also praise their work, what they achieved in fighting, which in truth was nothing. The soldiers of the British Empire achieved little more than a painful death at the hands of the enemy artillery, being killed either by shell or under hoof of their steeds. But Tennyson used this as support for the Empire, glorifying the deaths of these men in battle, which in first place was suicide.
To look at this poem, and to look at a historical account of the Crimean war, would reveal a lot more detail about the battle, if it may be called that. Tennyson does not mention the details of the attack or the retreat for one reason. This work lies to the reader.
The poem itself is a well written and thought out piece; despite its purpose, it is a true piece of poetry workmanship. The writing techniques used by Tennyson are influential to this poem. Onomatopoeia, forceful language, rhythm, repetition, hyperbole, collective pronouns and more are all used to weave together his thoughts. Onomatopoeia is used by Tennyson to convey the ferocity of the battle:
“Volleyd and thunderd,
Stormd at with shot and shell.”
This in turn enhances the glorification of the warriors, people read the poem, hear these words and imagine for themselves how dangerous and desperate their charge is, yet they cannot picture the true carnage, soldier and steed being flung left and right by explosions and gun fire, bodies flayed and mutilated by tearing explosions. This is the truth that the reader does not see, instead Tennyson creates a valiant charge, belittling the enemys firepower, and portraying an unrelenting force. This is backed up by the repetition used by Tennyson, for example in the first stanza, the opening lines are:
“Half a league, half a league
Half a league onward.”
This repetition echoes their charge; it is also part of the rhythm in this poem, the galloping of the horses as they take their riders to their unwary deaths. Tennyson is trying to pace this poem in a way the reader will recognize. Repetition is also used to show the law of the soldier, discipline above thought:
“Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die;”
A soldier is created, shaped and kilned. He is trained to follow orders, to never question his orders, never question the judgment of their superiors and to never run away from the enemy, because in most cases, cowardice was rewarded only by death. This is what Tennyson is saying, yet we know in truth these men were frightened, in their minds they were going through the battle plan discussed hours before, as they blindly charged into the abyss.
The language used by Tennyson, is forceful, his poem is a subtle way of forcing the reader to join the armed forces of the British Empire. They are coaxed and tempted. The reader is shown the glory of the Light Brigade, how they valiantly yet blindly charge into the enemys territory, and how each soldier who is killed in service, is ceremonially buried and remembered by the nation. This language is what makes Tennysons poem effective: