Gateway to the Classics: Oxford Book of English Verse, Part 1 by Arthur Quiller-Couch
Oxford Book of English Verse, Part 1 by  Arthur Quiller-Couch


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 amazéd:

Yet have we well begun;

Battles so bravely won

Have ever to the sun

By fame been raiséd.

"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

Bruiséd 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?

— Michael Drayton

 Table of Contents  |  Index  |  Home  | Previous: Sirena  |  Next: To the Virginian Voyage
Copyright (c) 2005 - 2023   Yesterday's Classics, LLC. All Rights Reserved.