St. Crispin’s Day

This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’

William Shakespeare, from Henry V

If you take all the people who died on St. Crispin’s Day – in the 1415 Battle of Agincourt, in the Charge of the Light Brigade at the 1854 Battle of Balaklava, and in the 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf (not to mention the third century twin saints Crispin and Crispinian, who were so hard to kill they had to be beheaded after surviving a fire and being thrown into a river with millstones around their necks) – and weigh them against the works of art they inspired, which side wins?

I think I’d say eliminate the killing. Shakespeare and Tennyson could always have written about something else.

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.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, from The Charge of the Light Brigade

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