Of course, Alfred, Lord Tennyson had numerous fans by the time of his death in 1892, but now he has another: my 9-year-old son, Philip.
A couple of weeks ago in Co-op, as part of our study on the Victorian Era and the Crimean War, we read Lord Tennyson's famous poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade" which memorializes a disastrous but courageous charge by the British cavalry in 1854. I had no idea how receptive the kids would be to this rather long poem, but they seemed to enjoy it. They left class that day chanting,
"Half a league, half a league
half a league onward!"
But I never heard another word about it...until today. This afternoon, John Mark and Becca were in the living room finishing their assignments while the three younger ones were in the kitchen. Philip had just finished his spelling test and math corrections, so it was time for some fun, I suppose. The older kids muffled laughs as they heard Philip reciting for his younger brothers (who were now a captive audience) in fine dramatic style:
"HALF a league, HALF a league,
HALF a league ONWARD!!!!!
INTO the VALLEY of DEATH
rode the six hundred....."
When he had finished all six stanzas, Philip, determined that this be an educational experience for his brothers, demanded of his reluctant audience, "What do you remember??" After a long pause, Benjamin finally offered, "Cannons?" And Philip had Ben and Nathanael recite with him:
"CANNONS to RIGHT of them!!
CANNONS to LEFT of them!!!
CANNONS in FRONT of them!!!
Volley'd and Thunder'd!!"
Becca confided, "Mom, he really likes that poem; he says it all the time!" John Mark reminded me that this would make great video. While I sneaked around the corner with the camera, Becca told Philip, "Say it again!" Flattered, he gladly complied. I have video of him at the kitchen table reciting the poem with vigor that would have brought tears to Tennyson's eyes. (I also have the younger brothers taking the opportunity to escape by quietly creeping out the kitchen door, lest they become unwilling participants in the reading again).
Oh, it does a homeschool mother's heart proud.