Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
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James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
 
October 25
The Ballad of Agincourt
By Michael Drayton (1563–1631)
 
          A victory gained by the English under Henry V. over the French under the Constable d’Albret, on Oct. 25, 1415. The English loss was about 1,600, that of the French over 10,000.

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,        5
At Kaux, the mouth of Seine,
With all his martial train,
    Landed King Harry.
 
And taking many a fort,
Furnished in warlike sort,        10
Marched towards Agincourt
    In happy hour—
Skirmishing day by day
With those that stopped his way,
Where the French gen’ral lay        15
    With all his power,
 
Which in his height of pride,
King Henry to deride,
His ransom to provide
    To the king sending;        20
Which he neglects the while,
As from a nation vile,
Yet, with an angry smile,
    Their fall portending.
 
And turning to his men,        25
Quoth our brave Henry then:
Though they to one be ten,
    Be not amazed;
Yet have we well begun—
Battles so bravely won        30
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,        35
    Nor more esteem me.
Victor I will remain,
Or on this earth lie slain;
Never shall she sustain
    Loss to redeem me.        40
 
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,        45
Claiming the regal seat,
By many a warlike feat
    Lopped the French lilies.
 
The Duke of York so dread
The eager vaward led;        50
With the main Henry sped,
    Amongst his henchmen.
Excester had the rear—
A braver man not there:
O Lord! how hot they were        55
    On the false Frenchmen!
 
They now to fight are gone;
Armour on armour shone;
Drum now to drum did groan—
    To hear was wonder;        60
That with the cries they make
The very earth did shake;
Trumpet to trumpet spake,
    Thunder to thunder.
 
Well it thine age became,        65
O noble Erpingham!
Which did the signal aim
    To our hid forces;
When, from a meadow by,
Like a storm suddenly,        70
The English archery
    Struck the French horses,
 
With Spanish yew so strong,
Arrows a cloth-yard long,
That like to serpents stung,        75
    Piercing the weather;
None from his fellow starts,
But playing manly parts,
And like true English hearts,
    Stuck close together.        80
 
When down their bows they threw,
And forth their bilbows drew,
And on the French they flew,
    Not one was tardy:
Arms were from shoulders sent;        85
Scalps to the teeth were rent;
Down the French peasants went;
    Our men were hardy.
 
This while our noble king,
His broadsword brandishing,        90
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        95
    Bruised his helmet.
 
Glo’ster, that duke so good,
Next of the royal blood,
For famous England stood,
    With his brave brother—        100
Clarence, in steel so bright,
Though but a maiden knight,
Yet in that furious fight
    Scarce such another.
 
Warwick in blood did wade;        105
Oxford the foe invade,
And cruel slaughter made,
    Still as they ran up.
Suffolk his axe did ply;
Beaumont and Willoughby        110
Bare them right doughtily,
    Ferrers and Fanhope.
 
Upon Saint Crispin’s day
Fought was this noble fray,
Which fame did not delay        115
    To England to carry;
O, when shall Englishmen
With such acts fill a pen,
Or England breed again
    Such a King Harry?        120
 
 
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