The Charge, crunched

Spencer – Year 9 Student

Editor’s Note: Spencer (Year 9) wrote the following in response to pick-and-mix tasks consolidating two poems, one of which was Alfred, Lord Tennyson‘s famous 1854 narrative poem The Charge of the Light Brigade. Spencer’s chosen task asked the students to turn the words shown below into another poem or a short story / story opening. The finished piece is stunning! I love the way he has manipulated the original words and turned it into a narrative with the same patriotic tones. What I’m loving about teaching a whole year group [during lockdown] is the exposure to students I’ve never had the chance of teaching before. KSH

Half a league. It isn’t a long distance, and can be crossed in a few seconds on horseback. But, it felt like a thousand miles. The men beside me were secretly despondent but their faces were effectively creating a façade of being noble and brave; not a single soldier looked afraid. But, we weren’t ready. None of us was. Resignedly, we wondered what would have happened if he wouldn’t have blundered and told us to charge; would we be somewhere safe now? I didn’t know and time was running out. Anxiously, we plunged into the valley, which was like a set of jaws waiting to consume us unsuspectingly. There had to be something in there, palled in darkness by the ominous, looming shadows. Our haggard faces searched for danger desperately hoping for our earnest efforts to be in vain. Suddenly, cannons thundered and stormed, their lethal and terrifying shells whizzing around in the sunlight, causing wild chaos. As we rode onwards, we could hear powerful shots shattering the very air through which they were travelling, they filled the air as their noise filled my head yet I paid dutiful attention to the direction of the execrably loud noises: left – right – right – left. Front! Shells flashed in the air and charged towards us, but we swooped down, boldly tempting death and charging onward. We reached the enemy and broke their defence; Cossack and Russian alike reeled from the quick slashes of our fine British sabres, and they reeled back from pain at which we delighted but our efforts were pitiful. Desperately, we turned and retreated, none of us daring to try be a hero. There was a brief period of total silence as we turned. None of the gunners could catch a glimpse of us because their own men were in the way. We charged forward, into their sight. The silence was shattered, the cannons volleyed from the sides and behind and the enemy army jeered and celebrated. Finally we returned from the valley, out of the jaws of the beast of battle, and I thought. The choice was theirs as to whether we did and we died or idly survived. I silently dismayed as I thought. They had the choice to save the six-hundred, but now we were lessened in number, shattered and sundered. I remembered the dead as I thought. They fought with honour and died with glory. Someone above them condemned the six hundred to the battlefield and they had no choice. The ground opened up and the mouth of hell swallowed most of the six hundred. I was a part of the six hundred – The Light Brigade. The Light Brigade is no more, but, to this day, it’s still them I fight for.


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