The Last of the Light Brigade

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"The Last of the Light Brigade" is a poem written in 1890 by Rudyard Kipling echoing – thirty-six years after the event – Alfred Tennyson's famous poem The Charge of the Light Brigade. Employing synecdoche, Kipling uses his poem to expose the terrible hardship faced in old age by veterans of the Crimean War, as exemplified by the cavalry men of the light brigade who charged at the Battle of Balaclava. It describes a visit by the last twenty survivors of the charge to Tennyson (then in his eightieth year) to reproach him gently for not writing a sequel about the way in which England was treating its old soldiers.[1] Some sources treat the poem as an account of a real event,[2] but other commentators class the destitute old soldiers as allegorical, with the visit invented by Kipling to draw attention to the poverty in which the real survivors were living, in the same way that he evoked Tommy Atkins in "The Absent Minded Beggar".[3][4]

Reception[edit]

Unlike Tennyson's poem, and like first-person accounts of the Light Brigade, Kipling's poem was largely ignored.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kipling, Rudyard (28 April 1890). "The Last of the Light Brigade". St James's Gazette. London. 
  2. ^ Staff writer (2 November 1913). "Last "Light Brigade" officer dies; Kipling poem discovered". New York Times. p. SM8. Retrieved 2009-04-07. 
  3. ^ Brighton, Terry (2004). Hell riders: the true story of the charge of the Light Brigade. New York: Henry Holt. pp. 229–234. ISBN 0-8050-7722-7. 
  4. ^ Lootens, Tricia (2000). "Victorian poetry and patriotism". In Bristow, Joseph. The Cambridge companion to Victorian poetry. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. pp. 269–270. ISBN 0-521-64115-2. 
  5. ^ Brighton, Terry (2004), Hell riders: the true story of the charge of the Light Brigade, Penguin, p. 229, ISBN 978-0-14-101831-7 

External links[edit]