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Teacher Ammani Jeya

What is a Poem?
A poem is a piece of creative writing that is arranged in patterns of lines and sounds to give a
certain effect to the reader.
The lines are arranged in stanza or verse form. The verses may be in rhyme and beautiful
language arranged in a particular way.
For example the repetition of certain words gives a certain sound effect that is pleasant and
makes the poem enjoyable to read.
A poem may describe a scene, a person, an animal or an experience and express the poet's
mood or feeling.

Elements of a Poem
The theme of a poem is the central idea that it expresses.
It could also be an insight that the poet wishes to share with the reader.

Moral Values
Some poems have moral values that aim to provide the reader with advice on some issues.

The persona is the person the poet creates to speak in the poem. It can be the poet as him/
herself or it can be someone else.
When the persona is someone else, the poet distances her/himself from what is being said in
the poem.

The setting is the place and time when the event in the poem takes place.
It could be in the past, present moment or the future and anywhere in the world.

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Tone and Mood

The mood of a poem expresses the feelings or emotions that a poem arouses. It tells us whether
the poet is sad, happy, calm, angry and so forth.
The tone is the way the poet expresses himself/herself and shows us his/her attitude towards a
character or subject. The tone can be understood from the words the poet uses to express his/her
feelings and attitude.

Language and Style

Poems appeal to our five senses: hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste with the use of symbols
and imagery.
Imagery creates a picture in our minds with the use of creative language.
Symbols are things that represent something or give us information about the setting. For
example, a flag represents a country and paddy fields and buffaloes tell us that the setting is a
Creative language can include the following:
(a)metaphors, which compare two things without the use of the word "like", for
example "layered with thinnest ice"
(b)personification, where the poet writes about things as though they were persons, for
example "the wind howled"
(c)onomatopoeia, which is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it
describes, for example, "meow", "roar".
(d)alliteration, which is the repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of
several words close together. For example,"Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers".
(e)assonance is a type of alliteration where vowel sounds create internal rhyming within
phrases or sentences. For example, "Do you use blue shoes?"

The Charge of the Light Bridge

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By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

About the poet

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Alfred, Lord Tennyson was born on 6 August, 1809 in Lincolnshire, England. He is one of most
well-loved poets in the Victorian period. Fourth of twelve children, Tennyson showed an early
talent for writing. He attended grammar school until he was eleven and then tutored at home by
his father in classical and modern languages. At age 14, he wrote a drama in blank verse and a
6000-line epic. In 1827, Tennyson attended Trinity College, Cambridge. During the next few
years, Tennyson continued to live with his family, which had now moved to London, and to
apply himself to his studies and writing. He became engaged to Emily Sellwood. In 1842, a two-
volume collection of his work appeared, containing many revisions of earlier poems, besides a
number of excellent new ones, including "Morte d'Arthur," "Ulysses," and "Locksley Hall." At
last Tennyson was recognized as one of the leading literary figures of the period and was
acclaimed throughout England. At the age of 41, Tennyson had established himself as the most
popular poet of the Victorian era.

Poems by Two Brothers (1827 containing works of Alfred, Charles and Frederick Tennyson)

Poems, Chiefly Lyrical (1830)

Poems by Alfred Tennyson (1832 - included early versions of many of his finest pieces including
"The Lady of Shalott," "The Palace of Art," "The Lotus-Eaters," "Oenone," and "A Dream of Fair

In Memoriam: 1850 - elegies and lyrics in memory of his friend, Arthur

Henry Hallam)

"Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington" (1852)

"The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1854)


Appointed to post of poet laureate (1850)


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The poem is a war poem about 600 soldiers of the Light Brigade who were ordered to charge
into a valley where the enemies were waiting. There were guns or cannons to the right, left and
front of them. As the soldiers rode into the valley they were attacked on all sides. Still they rode
on and attacked the soldiers they saw. On their retreat they were attacked just as badly on all
sides. Many of these soldiers died. It was in the line of duty and no one protested when the order
was given for them to ride into the valley of death.

Literal and Figurative Meanings

Literal Meaning

Figurative Meaning

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Warfare and conflict
Carrying out a given duty
Courage in the face of danger
Blind respect for authority
Death and destruction

Moral Values
We must struggle for peace rather than warfare.
When given a duty we try out best to carry it out.
When we know that some instructions or orders could lead to danger, we must be
prepared to voice our feelings.
Discussion is a good approach before we carry out projects.
We should be brave in the face of danger.

Point of View
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Third person point of view - the poem is presented by an all-knowing person. The person
tells the thoughts and actions of the characters.

Language and Style

Tone and Mood

Tone - strong and sympathetic to soldiers who have to do what they were instructed

Submissive - though the soldiers knew someone had made a mistake, they still carried on

Mood - excited as they initially heard the orders and then it changed to fear and horror as
they rode into the valley knowing it was sure death.

Poetic Devices
Sound Devices

Literary Devices
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Figurative Devices

Practice 1

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Label the pictures as stanza 1,2,3.



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Practice 2

Read the poem and answer the questions that follow.

1. Who wrote the poem?


2. What is the poem mainly about?


3. Describe the Light Brigade:

(i) How many soldiers were involved?


(ii) What were they told to do?


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(iii) How far did the solders have to ride?


4. Describe the soldiers:

(i) What did the soldiers knew when they did as ordered?


(ii) How did they feel?


(iii) Why did they not question the orders?


(iv) What do you think is the motto of the Light Brigade?


5. What surrounded the soldiers as they rode into the valley? What does this tell us about the


6. How were the soldiers attacked as they rode into the valley?


7. How do you think the soldiers looked as they rode boldly and well? Give a reason for your


8. If you were a reporter, how would you describe the scene of warfare as depicted in stanza 3?
Would you consider them as heroes? Why or why not?


Practice 3

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words or phrases from the text.

The poem was written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. It is a war poem about 600 soldiers of the
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(1)______________________________.They had been ordered to (2) ____________________

into a valley full of enemies who were obviously expecting the attack. The latter were fully
prepared with guns or (3) ______________________________to the right, left and front. As the
soldiers (4) ______________________________into the valley they were attacked on all sides.
Cannon balls flew in all directions as they (5) ______________________________at and shot
the Light Brigade. Still the soldiers of the Light Brigade rode on and attacked the soldiers they
saw. On their retreat they were attacked just as violently on all sides. Many if not all of these
soldiers died a violent death in the (6) ______________________or the mouth of Hell. It was in
the line of duty and no one (7) ______________________________when the order was given
for them to ride into the valley of death. The soldiers knew someone had (8)
______________________________ and they knew what they would have to face. Yet they did
not reason why as they were prepared to (9) _____________________________.Hence, the
valley was named (10) _____________________________.

Practice 4

Write True or False

1 The Light Brigade is going to battle. ________________________

2 There are altogether five hundred soldiers. ________________________

3 The soldiers questioned their commander. ________________________

4 The Light Brigade were shot at with missiles. ________________________

5 The soldiers fought bravely in the battle. ________________________

6 The 'valley of Death' was the battle ground. ________________________

7 The soldiers were prepared to die. ________________________

8 The enemies' cannons were only to the right of the soldiers. ________________________

Practice 5

Match the following phrases to their meanings.

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Practice 6

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Based on the poem choose the correct answers.

1. Where were the soldiers going?

A Back to their base camp
B Back to their country
C Into battle
D Into hell

2. What weapons were used against the soldiers?

A Lances
B Swords
C Daggers
D Cannons

3. Which word best replaces the word 'blundered'?

A Mistake
B Tripped
C Stumbled
D Staggered

4. According to the poem, what is the role of the soldiers?

A To plan battles
B To ask questions
C To obey their commander
D To protect their commander

5. Where were the cannons?

A. At the back of the soldiers
B. Only on the left of the soldiers
C. Only at the front of the soldiers
D. To the left, right and front of the soldiers

6 What did the Light Brigade do when they were attacked?

A. They ran away
B. They did not do anything.
C. They charged at the enemy.
D. They talked to their enemy.