Charge of the Light Brigade and Exposure


Discuss the poets different attitudes towards war, as presented in the ‘Charge of the light brigade’ and ‘Exposure.’


Alfred, Lord Tennyson, wrote the charge of the light brigade. The poem was written in response to a newspaper article he had seen in ‘The Times’ by a war correspondent known as W.H Russell. Tennyson had a subjective view on the poem because he wasn’t there at the time of the Crimean war.


Wilfred Owen, who was present at the time of the First World War and was positioned on the frontline when he wrote Exposure.


The context of each poem is very different. Charge of the light brigade was set during the Crimean war and the battle of balaclava. Exposure was set in the heart of World war one, however Wilfred Owen had participated in the war so this made the poem more realistic. Both of the poems depict war in 2 different ways. Charge of the light brigade depicts war as glorious because Tennyson wasn’t there, all he had was a newspaper article, and the poem is very biased towards the light brigade. For example ‘where can their glory fade, O the wild charge they made’, Exposure depicts was as horrible and miserable. Owen was there fighting on the front when he wrote the poem so that hard truths of war could be said. For example ‘the poignant misery of dawn begins to grow.’


Looking at the two poems, the different language shows us the two sides of war depicted in the two poems. Charge of the light brigade shows us that war was good and the troops were very strong. ‘Rode the six hundred,’ ‘Was they’re a man dismayed?’ ‘Boldly they rode well’, Exposure shows us that war was miserable and depressing. ‘Worried by silence, sentries whisper, curious, nervous’, ‘watching we hear the mad gusts tugging in the wire, likes twitching agonies of men among its brambles”.


The structure of the two poems is very similar. Charge of the light brigade has 6 stanzas. Each stanza describes what the light brigade is doing. Example, in stanza 1 the light brigade is charging into the valley of death. In stanza 2 they are told to go into battle and not two ask questions but to die for their country. Each verse is ended with a settlement about the six hundred men. Exposure has 8 stanzas. Each one describes what is happening, the time of day or what the weather is like. Example, stanza 1 is in the middle of the night and it is silent. Stanza 2 describes the men who got caught in the barbed wire and the far off gunshots heard. Each stanza ends with a statement or a short question.


The mood and tone in the two poems is very different. In Charge of the light brigade the mood is good, the men are feeling happy and very energetic and the tone is very lively. ‘Half a league, half a league onward’, ‘ stormed at with shot and shell, boldly they rode and well’, they that had fought so well, ‘came through the jaws of death, back from the mouth of hell’. In exposure the mood and tone is completely different. The poem is very slow, there is no happiness about it and it is very depressing. ‘ Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knive us’, ‘ we only know that war lasts, rain soaks and clouds sag stormy’, 2 the burying party, ‘picks and shovels in shaking grasp’.


The rhyme and rhythm in each poem is also different. Charge of the light brigade has no rhyming patterns at all, but the words are said so he can make it seem like a horse is galloping along. ‘Half a league, half a league, half a league onward’, this makes the poem seem very fast and lively. Exposure has the rhyming pattern of 1+4, 2+3. The poem has no rhythm, this gives the effect of war being very slow and uncertain, and there is no clear route.


The Charge of the light brigade is written in 3rd person because Tennyson is not watching the war happening, he is writing it in response to a newspaper, so he