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Consider 'Charge of the Light Brigade' and 'Ode on the death of the Duke of Wellington' as poetry written for public occasions.

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Introduction

Consider Charge of the Light Brigade and Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington as poetry written for public occasions Both poems were written by Tennyson in response to events that affected the Victorian era, but more importantly, they were clearly aimed at a Victorian audience and as a result by looking at the views expressed we can understand Victorian attitudes. In contrast to in memoriam and Tithonus, for example, both poems show restrained, formal language with less pastoral imagery. In addition, these poems are both post-in memoriam and as such show Tennyson having reconciled his heart and mind: this emotional composure is reflected in the forceful images (that have little ambiguity unlike the fluctuating ideas of his elegy) and although the poems are for the public, their style has definitely been affected by earlier poems. Charge of the Light Brigade uses a dactylic meter, which creates a slightly unnatural falling rhythm used to mirror the charge of the horses. The regularly structured eight-line stanzas and this rhythmical meter seems to give the poem a degree of cohesion but if we look more closely the seemingly random rhyme ...read more.

Middle

The Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington is similar in that it reflects the Victorian ideals of duty, honour and morality while deadening personal emotions and individualism. The poem opens, "Bury the Great Duke/ With an empire's lamentation." It is interesting to note that a four-syllable word doesn't appear in in memoriam until the twenty-third stanza and in Ulysses until the thirty-third line meaning that the tone in the ode is immediately elevated and a solemn, formal atmosphere is created. Unlike Charge of the Light Brigade, the overall structure of the poem is irregular and mirrors a funeral procession. The first stanza ends with, "Mourning when their leaders fall,/ Warriors carry the warrior's pall,/ And sorrow darkens hamlet and hall." The triplets create a rhythm where the monosyllables capture the mourners' footsteps but underlying this sombre mood is a clearly martial sound that is reinforced through the repetition of the word "warrior" and the nasal sounds in the fourth line. This trumpet-like sound is repeated in the third stanza where "the mournful martial music" is not only onomatopoeic but also removes the rhythm allowing the poem to slip into a melancholic cry of distress. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although the images are lush, descriptive and full of detail the momentum seems to carry the poet along - the enjambment gives a sense of pace to the lines and one feels that the hyperbole deadens the overall impact of the stanza. However, the labial syllables (in which the poem seems to wallow) and varying colours in the metaphors depict the self-indulgence superbly even if belief in these ideals is less than perfect. What is the ultimate significance of these poems as public poetry? Firstly, they clearly display Tennyson's public persona where, exclaiming "Oh God and Godlike men we build our trust," it is clear he ignores the doubt and adopts an all-consuming optimism in which he finds some sort of relief. Secondly, the poems capture a picture of the Victorian era; an era where an almost perverse fixation with duty and outward self-restraint dominates all aspects of life. However this era reconciles faith and doubt in a crude manner, glossing over the gritty details of life and aspiring towards some unattainable abstractions - abstractions that cover the true confusion and vulnerability of the Victorian public. SHASHANK JOSHI ...read more.

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