In case you needed a reason not to read Tennyson after listening to Wagner

Wagner: worse than the Crimean, apparently. Then again, Tennyson’s taste was always questionable.

The Charge of the Leitmotif

Forward, the Leitmotif!1
Was there a man dismay’d
Not tho’ the listener knew
Someone had blundered2
Theirs not to make reply
Theirs not to reason why
Theirs but to hear and sigh
Into the opera house
Went the six hundred.3

Tenors to the right of them
Tenors to the left of them
Tenors in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d
Storm’d at with shot and shell
Boldly they list’n’d and well
Into the jaws of Death
Into the mouth of hell
Went the six hundred.

Flash’d all their tickets bare
Flash’d as they climb’d the stair
Scattring the ushers there4
Charging seat-ward while
All the world wonder’d
Plunged past the velvet rope
(The ladies’ bathroom has no soap)
Parterre and balcony
Reel’d from the Helden-stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they went back, but not,
Not the six hundred.

Tenors to right of them,
Tenors to left of them,
Tenors behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While balcony and parterre fell,
They that had list’n’d 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!5
All the world wonder’d.
Honor the charge they made!
Honor the [need a rhyme here: balustrade? Something dissuade? Undismayed?]
Noble six hundred!

1. I know this line doesn’t exactly work, as far as the conceit of the poem is concerned.
2. It was supposed to be Puccini that night
3. Small opera house.
4. I guess this was after intermission, because they’d already gone in earlier and heard the tenors, as per prev. stanza.
5. About $25 if you want to sit way up top.