Poems » ernest dowson » ode to the cambro britons and their harp his 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,
Furnish'd in warlike sort,
Marcheth towards 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
     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!

"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
     Amongst 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 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 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 hardy.

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.

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?