Michael Drayton

Here you will find the Long Poem Agincourt of poet Michael Drayton


FAIR stood the wind for France 
When we our sails advance, 
Nor now to prove our chance 
   Longer will tarry; 
But putting to the main, 
At Caux, the mouth of Seine, 
With all his martial train 
   Landed King Harry. 

And taking many a fort, 
Furnish'd in warlike sort, 
Marcheth tow'rds Agincourt 
   In happy hour; 
Skirmishing day by day 
With those that stopp'd his way, 
Where the French gen'ral lay 
   With all his power. 

Which, in his height of pride, 
King Henry to deride, 
His ransom to provide 
   Unto him sending; 
Which he neglects the while 
As from a nation vile, 
Yet with an angry smile 
   Their fall portending. 

And turning to his men, 
Quoth our brave Henry then, 
'Though they to one be ten 
   Be not amazed: 
Yet have we well begun; 
Battles so bravely won 
Have ever to the sun 
   By fame been raised. 

'And for myself (quoth he) 
This my full rest shall be: 
England ne'er mourn for me 
   Nor more esteem me: 
Victor I will remain 
Or on this earth lie slain, 
Never shall she sustain 
   Loss to redeem me. 

'Poitiers and Cressy tell, 
When most their pride did swell, 
Under our swords they fell: 
   No less our skill is 
Than when our grandsire great, 
Claiming the regal seat, 
By many a warlike feat 
   Lopp'd the French lilies.' 

The Duke of York so dread 
The eager vaward led; 
With the main Henry sped 
   Among his henchmen. 
Excester had the rear, 
A braver man not there; 
O Lord, how hot they were 
   On the false Frenchmen! 

They now to fight are gone, 
Armour on armour shone, 
Drum now to drum did groan, 
   To hear was wonder; 
That with the cries they make 
The very earth did shake: 
Trumpet to trumpet spake, 
   Thunder to thunder. 

Well it thine age became, 
O noble Erpingham, 
Which didst the signal aim 
   To our hid forces! 
When from a meadow by, 
Like a storm suddenly 
The English archery 
   Stuck the French horses. 

With Spanish yew so strong, 
Arrows a cloth-yard long 
That like to serpents stung, 
   Piercing the weather; 
None from his fellow starts, 
But playing manly parts, 
And like true English hearts 
   Stuck close together. 

When down their bows they threw, 
And forth their bilbos drew, 
And on the French they flew, 
   Not one was tardy; 
Arms were from shoulders sent, 
Scalps to the teeth were rent, 
Down the French peasants went-- 
   Our men were hardy. 

This while our noble king, 
His broadsword brandishing, 
Down the French host did ding 
   As to o'erwhelm it; 
And many a deep wound lent, 
His arms with blood besprent, 
And many a cruel dent 
   Bruised his helmet. 

Gloster, that duke so good, 
Next of the royal blood, 
For famous England stood 
   With his brave brother; 
Clarence, in steel so bright, 
Though but a maiden knight, 
Yet in that furious fight 
   Scarce such another. 

Warwick in blood did wade, 
Oxford the foe invade, 
And cruel slaughter made 
   Still as they ran up; 
Suffolk his axe did ply, 
Beaumont and Willoughby 
Bare them right doughtily, 
   Ferrers and Fanhope. 

Upon Saint Crispin's Day 
Fought was this noble fray, 
Which fame did not delay 
   To England to carry. 
O when shall English men 
With such acts fill a pen? 
Or England breed again 
   Such a King Harry?