Ode to the Cambro-Britons and their Harp, His Ballad of Agincourt

Original Text: 
Michael Drayton, Poems (W. Stansby for J. Swethwicke, 1619). STC 7222. Facs. edn.: Scolar Press, 1969. PR 2255 A1 1619A.
2When we our sails advance;
3Nor now to prove our chance
4     Longer will tarry;
5But putting to the main,
6At Caux, the mouth of Seine,
7With all his martial train
8     Landed King Harry.
9And taking many a fort,
10Furnish'd in warlike sort,
11Marcheth towards Agincourt
12     In happy hour;
13Skirmishing day by day
14With those that stopp'd his way,
15Where the French gen'ral lay
16     With all his power.
17Which, in his height of pride,
18King Henry to deride,
19His ransom to provide
20     To the King sending;
21Which he neglects the while,
22As from a nation vile
23Yet with an angry smile
24     Their fall portending.
25And turning to his men
26Quoth our brave Henry then:
27"Though they to one be ten
28     Be not amazed.
29Yet have we well begun:
30Battles so bravely won
31Have ever to the sun
32     By Fame been raised!
33"And for myself," quoth he,
34"This my full rest shall be:
35England ne'er mourn for me,
36     Nor more esteem me;
37Victor I will remain,
38Or on this earth lie slain;
39Never shall she sustain
40     Loss to redeem me!
42When most their pride did swell
43Under our swords they fell;
44     No less our skill is
45Than when our grandsire great,
46Claiming the regal seat,
47By many a warlike feat
48     Lopp'd the French lilies."
49The Duke of York so dread
52     Amongst his henchmen:
54A braver man not there
55O Lord, how hot they were
56     On the false Frenchmen!
57They now to fight are gone;
58Armour on armour shone;
59Drum now to drum did groan:
60     To hear, was wonder;
61That, with cries they make,
62The very earth did shake;
63Trumpet to trumpet spake,
64     Thunder to thunder.
65Well it thine age became,
66O noble Erpingham,
67Which didst the signal aim
68     To our hid forces;
69When, from a meadow by,
70Like a storm suddenly,
72     Stuck the French horses
73With Spanish yew so strong,
74Arrows a cloth-yard long,
75That like to serpents stung,
76     Piercing the weather.
77None from his fellow starts,
78But playing manly parts,
79And like true English hearts
80     Stuck close together.
81When down their bows they threw,
83And on the French they flew,
84     Not one was tardy;
85Arms were from shoulders sent,
86Scalps to the teeth were rent,
87Down the French peasants went:
88     Our men were hardy.
89This while our noble King,
90His broad sword brandishing,
91Down the French host did ding,
92     As to o'erwhelm it.
93And many a deep wound lent,
94His arms with blood besprent,
95And many a cruel dent
96     Bruised his helmet.
97Gloster, that duke so good,
98Next of the royal blood,
99For famous England stood
100     With his brave brother.
101Clarence, in steel so bright,
102Though but a maiden knight,
103Yet in that furious fight
104     Scarce such another!
105Warwick in blood did wade,
106Oxford the foe invade,
107And cruel slaughter made,
108     Still as they ran up.
109Suffolk his axe did ply;
110Beaumont and Willoughby
111Bare them right doughtily;
112     Ferrers and Fanhope.
114Fought was this noble fray,
115Which fame did not delay
116     To England to carry.
117O when shall English men
118With such acts fill a pen,
119Or England breed again
120     Such a King Harry?


1] First published in 1606 and revised in 1619. The latter text is here followed. Cf. Shakespeare's Henry V, where the Welsh contribution to the battle is also given its due, and whose dramatis personae include Sir Thomas Erpingham and other leaders of the British army referred to in the poem. Back to Line
41] Poitiers and Cressy: sites of earlier battles in the Hundred Years' War. Back to Line
50] vaward: vanward. Back to Line
51] main: main body. Back to Line
53] Excester: the Duke of Exeter. Back to Line
71] The English archery: archers played a famous part in the victory. Back to Line
82] bilboes: swords; from Bilboa, Spain, where fine swords were made. Back to Line
113] Saint Crispin's Day: October 25, 1415. See Henry V, III, iv, 40-67. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
F. D. Hoeniger
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.134.