The Ballad of Agincourt

by 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,
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 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.
 
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 vaward 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,
Armour on armour shone,
Drum now to drum did groan,
To hear, was wonder;
That with 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 bilboes 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 hardv.
 
This while our noble King,
His broad sword 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.
 
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;
0, when shall English men
With such acts fill a pen,
Or England breed again,
Such a King Harry?