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    #1

    Tennyson's blunder

    Dear teachers,

    In a work of Bernard Shaw I met a paraphrase two lines from Tenneson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade"

    "Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die"

    How contemporary sounds this now.

    Could you tell me, how could I catch the meaning the mentioned lines. How could I follow Tenneson's "militaristic and chauvinistic sentiments". Excuse me, there are higher and more noble sentiments. Maybe you have to put in some additional words as "your duty is" and respectively "your business is".

    Maybe Grammar is no good for the Great?

    V.


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    #2

    Re: Tennyson's blunder

    It's a poem. Poems do not follow the rules of grammar as they are constrained by metre and rhyme.

    It is not their duty to reason why they are doing this. It is their duty to obey orders, to fight and, if necessary, to die.


    • Join Date: Sep 2007
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    #3

    Re: Tennyson's blunder

    Quote Originally Posted by vil View Post
    Dear teachers,

    In a work of Bernard Shaw I met a paraphrase two lines from Tenneson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade"

    "Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die"

    How contemporary sounds this now.

    Could you tell me, how could I catch the meaning the mentioned lines. How could I follow Tenneson's "militaristic and chauvinistic sentiments". Excuse me, there are higher and more noble sentiments. Maybe you have to put in some additional words as "your duty is" and respectively "your business is".

    Maybe Grammar is no good for the Great?

    V.
    Good poetry captures meaning and emotion with as few words as possible. In poetry language this act is called wordsmithing. As pointed out before poetry breaks many grammatical rules, just as speaking English does.

    If you look at these two lines there are 6 syllables in each lie and there is the same rhythm in their saying.

    "Theirs not to reason why," refers to the cavalry men and soldiers in general who are trained to obey orders without question.

    " Theirs but to do and die" they must complete the mission or die in the attempt.

    This is an amazing poem.

    • Member Info
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      • Bulgarian
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    #4

    Re: Tennyson's blunder

    Hi Anglika,

    Thank you for the thorough explanation.

    Now I can comprehend that life-and-dead situation, you bet with the help of you.

    Thank you again.

    V.

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