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Eva March Tappan

The Ballad of Agincourt


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,

Furnished in warlike sort,

Marcheth towards Agincourt,

In happy hour;

Skirmishing day by day

With those that stopped his way,

Where the French general lay

With all his power.

Which in his height of pride,

King Henry to deride,

His ransom to provide

To the king 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 Harry then,

"Though they be one to ten,

Be not amazèd;

Yet have we well begun,

Battles so bravely won

Have ever to the sun

By fame been raisèd.

"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

Lopped the French lilies."

The Duke of York so dread

The eager va'ward led;

With the main, Henry sped,

Amongst his henchmen.

Exeter had the rear,

A braver man not there,

O lord, how hot they were

On the false Frenchmen!

They now to fight are gone,

Armor on armor 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

Struck 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

Bruisèd his helmet.

Gloucester, 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;

Oh, when shall Englishmen

With such acts fill a pen,

Or England breed again

Such a King Harry?

By Michael Drayton