Charge of the “Tight Brigade”

I spent Friday – about five hours – sitting in front of a microfilm reader sifting through issues of a rare newspaper, the Placer Herald. Most of what I found was not helpful save this delightful poem:

Charge of the “Tight Brigade” 

There has been a most alarming quantity of poetic agonizing over the piece of sublime stupidity perpetrated at the Balaklava called the Charge of the Light Brigade. The versus which Tennyson, an English poet, wrote upon the rash act, are happily imitated by “Vennison Stalk, Esq.,”  of the Ohio Statesman, who being charged with having no genius for writing on the fiercer themes of war, penned the following “spirit-stirring lyric” in brilliant refutation of the slander:

 

At the bar, at the bar,

At the bar thundered;

Thundered with fiercest din,

Topers one hundred.

 

There stood, those thirsty men,

Thirsty one hundred;

Calling for drinks in vain,

The bar-keeper slumbered;

Hark! There’s a sound from one!

List, how the curses come,

From each and every one!

Of that dry one hundred.

 

Into the bar they pitch

Noble old topers,

For up comes an order, which

Pleased these old soakers:

“Forward the Tight Brigade!

Take the bar.” Muggins said;

Into it, undismayed,

Pitched now each drunken blade –

Pitched the one hundred.

 

“Forward the Tight Brigade!”

Gods, what a charge they made!

No one was there afraid,

No person blundered.

Theirs but to drunk their fill,

Theirs but to have a swill,

Theirs not to pay the bill;

Ah yes, they know it well!

Knowing one hundred.

 

Bottles to right of them,

Bottles to left of them,

Bottles in front of them.

Labeled and numbered;

Nobly they fought and well,

There many a hero fell.

Covered with blood and beer;

Beer that they loved so well,

Gallant one hundred!

 

Raised now each nose in air,

See what is under there,

Mugs charged with lager bier –

All the world wondered!

Fiercer the revel grows,

Redder each blazing nose,

Faster the liquid flows,

Under the table, goes

Half of the hundred.

 

Bottles to right of them,

Bottles to left of them,

Bottles in front of them.

Emptied and sundered;

Out from that dreadful room,

Out from that dark saloon,

Came forth a beery fume,

Came for a dismal moan,

But none of the hundred.

 

When they woke again,

O, how their heads did pain!

No person wondered;

Honor the Tight Brigade!

Honor the charge they made,

Thirsty one hundred.

 

– Placer Herald, June 16, 1855

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