Thy Pen is Thy Sword

Using The Power of Words and Intellect To Break Down The Walls

Into the valley of Death rode the six hundred

Here’s a classic. I remembered listening to it when I was 15 during literature class. We were analysing the poem, Charge of The Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The poem was written in 1854 about a war during the same period. To capture our interest, my teacher played for us a song by Iron Maiden entitled “The Trooper”.

We asked what a heavy metal band has anything to do with classical poetry. We were surprised on two counts. One, the song rocks (obviously) and stuck to our mind like a bad headache. Two, the song’s lyrics were inspired by the original poem.

Here’s the original poem:

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldiers knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Their’s not to make reply,
Their’s not to reason why,
Their’s but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder’d.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

And here are the lyrics to Iron Maiden’s version:

you’ll take my life but i’ll take yours too
you’ll fire your musket but i’ll run you through
so when you’re waiting for the next attack
you’d better stand there’s no turning back
the bugle sounds the charge begins
but on this battle field no one wins
the smell of acrid smoke and horses breath as I plunge on into certain death

oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh ohx2

the horse he swaets with fear we break to run
the mighty roar of the russian guns
and as we race towards the human wall
the screams of pain as my comrades fall

we hurdle bodies that lay on the ground
and the russians fire another round
we get so near yet so far away
we wont live to fight another day


we get so close near enough to fight
when a russian gets me in his sights
he pulls the trigger and i feel the blow
a burst of rounds takes my horse below
and as I lay there gazing at the sky
my body’s numb and my throat is dry
and as I lay forgotten and alone
without a tear I draw my parting groan

Obviously we enjoyed Iron Maiden’s version more. I also realised that many great rock and metal songs have classical influences. I’ll introduce more next time.

Oh yes, enjoy the video as well.


July 18, 2008 - Posted by | English Language and Literature, Music


  1. nice..

    all about war!!(which i like)

    wanna check my out my new website?

    it’s at

    you can register there and maybe promote it πŸ˜›

    it’s new so it’ll need more members ^_^\/

    so bye πŸ™‚

    Comment by megafreak | August 8, 2008 | Reply

  2. this does;nt help me at all bt a great ideas

    Comment by dav | November 23, 2009 | Reply

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