War, the Liberator, and Other Pieces/The Charge of the Light Brigade

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
For works with similar titles, see The Charge of the Light Brigade.


Brought up to Date

HALF a league, half a league,
Half a league onward—
“That is, unless some damned
Airman has blundered,
If the map isn’t right
We’ll be a funny sight.”
So as they tramped along
Officers pondered,
While, with equipment hung,
Curses on every tongue,
Forward with rifles slung,
Slouched the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them,
Volleyed and thundered,
“And—what was twice as bad—
Our gunners never had
Strafed that machine-gun lad.
I always wondered
If our old barrage could
Be half as bloody good
As the Staff said it would.”
Was there a man dismayed?
Yes, they were damned afraid,
Loathing both shot and shell,
Into the mouth of Hell,
Sticking it pretty well,
Slouched the six hundred.

Through the barrage they passed,
Men falling thick and fast,
Till the machine-gun blast
Smote them to lying
Down in the grass a bit;
Over the roar of it
Officers yelled, were hit,
Dropped and lay dying.
Then the retreat began,
Every unwounded man
Staggered or crawled or ran
Back to the trench again,
While on the broken plain
Dead and untroubling,
Wounded and wondering,
What help the night would bring,
Lay the six hundred.