Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson Writing Styles in The Charge of the Light Brigade

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"The Charge of the Light Brigade" is divided into six stanzas that vary from six to twelve lines each. While the poem cannot be easily classified as far as its meter, or rhythm structure, the dominant rhythm in 'The Charge of the Light Brigade" is dactylic. A dactyl is a metric unit (also called a "foot") consisting of one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed. When Tennyson uses two dactyls to a line, the effect is that the poem thunders boldly like war drums or like hoofbeats, as in the following line:

Half a league, / half a league

The initial dactyl in each line is often combined with a trochee, which is a foot consisting of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable. It is used with a dactyl to bring a series of lines to a clipped halt, as in the lines:

Rode the six / hundred or...

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Poetry for Students
The Charge of the Light Brigade from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.