Friday, December 25, 2020

Do And Die, not Do or Die - common misquote

The poem by Lord Alfred Tennyson called The Charge of the Light Brigade is often misquoted.  Lines 14 and 15 are commonly verbalize as "Ours is not to ask why, but to do or die", or something similar.  The key here is that a choice is present; "do or die".  In other words, we follow our orders or be will held accountable.  Or perhaps, do or die trying.

However, within the actual poem (below), such a choice never is present.  The lines are actually "Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die".  The soldiers of the poem never question their order, even though the order is clearly erroneous.  For these soldiers, these six hundred brigaders, a choice is never even in their thoughts.  They would ride headlong into cannon fire, being cut to pieces, while knowing there was no hope of success nor life afterwards.  

When one applies this poem to one's own situation, the phrase "do and die" is far more powerful, potent and critical.  No choice is available, even though the required action surely leads to failure.  In this regard, one might be unintentionally critiquing their orders as folly.

Of course, the poem is poetic. Though the poem does mention some survivors, it romanticizes the sacrifice of the brigade on the whole.  In reality, many of the soldiers survived.  Further, history has characterised the order to charge as a misunderstanding or miscommunication.  However, the order being a mistake of some sort is not undermined by the fact that some brigaders survived.  The Light Brigade was decimated in their charge of the cannons, and that decimation was obviously inevitable. 

The Charge of the Light Brigade

                    I
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.

                    II
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
   Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

                  III
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
   Rode the six hundred.

                   IV
Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
   All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
   Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
   Not the six hundred.

                    V
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
   Left of six hundred.

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

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Just saw yet another shooting star

In a strange coincidence, I've seen another shooting start last night as I walked out to my backyard. I looked up, and there it was.  This one was different than the previous sighting a couple of weeks ago.  The sky was perfectly clear.  This shooting star was just a point of light that streaked across the sky, but with no tail.  I noticed it just as it lit up.  It got brighter as it moved Westward until it dimmed a second or so later.  Similar to the previous shooting star, it moved East in a Westerly direction.

The Geminid meteor showers will happen in a week or so.  Maybe these early shooting stars are their vanguard.

Friday, December 04, 2020

Lunch today


There was an attempt to get In-N-Out Burger on a whim at the new location in Aurora. 2.5hr wait from this spot. A spontaneous decision to see if we could get In-N-Out today turned into a long discussion about if we should. In-N-Out is good, but we're too hungry. Another day. 

 
So, we ended up at La Sandia in Stapleton for a delicious lunch of Mexican cuisine.