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Our polarity was mentioned but never revealed

Coulombs we made, but our fate was sealed

Repelling the dark, we refused to yield

They had a battery: We died in the field

Who are we and how many? (Please explain each line)


Hints

  1. If we had been switched on, we might have better seen our fate. But, then again, it did happen during the day.
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  • $\begingroup$ @bobble - I've added the riddle tag. You are asked to identify "we", a historically recorded group. Note that I have consistently used misdirection. Once that has been bypassed, everything makes sense provided you know or can glean the history. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2020 at 0:55
  • $\begingroup$ @csM - I suppose that means you're not referring to 6 billion electrons? $\endgroup$
    – Nilster
    Dec 9, 2020 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Nilster - Correct. I am not! You could call it a species of indirect pun. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2020 at 1:19

1 Answer 1

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I wonder whether this is

a terrible pun on The Charge of the Light Brigade, as immortalized by Tennyson's poem.

If so then

"we" are the British light cavalry who on 1854-10-25 made an ill-fated attack on the Russian artillery, and according to Tennyson the number is 600. (The actual number of deaths was quite a lot less than that. I don't know exactly how many soldiers were really involved.)

Our polarity was mentioned but never revealed

That is, our charge. It's even in the title! But Tennyson inexplicably neglects to say whether it was a positive or a negative charge.

Coulombs we made, but our fate was sealed

Once again, they made a charge. But "all the world knew / Someone had blundered", and they were doomed to "do and die".

Repelling the dark, we refused to yield

They were of course the Light brigade. "Boldly they rode and well, / Into the jaws of Death, / Into the mouth of Hell."

They had a battery: We died in the field

Quite a considerable battery. Cannons to the left of them, cannons to the right of them. Tennyson even uses the word: "Plunged in the battery-smoke / Right thro' the line they broke". But, alas, many of them died. It was, of course, not actually an electric field.

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