'The Battle Of Agincourt' by Michael Drayton

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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 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 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
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 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
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.
O, when shall English men
With such acts fill a pen;
Or England breed again
Such a King Harry?

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Battle Of Agincourt: A Masterpiece of Poetry

As a lover of poetry, I am always on the lookout for masterpieces that not only display excellent technique but also tell a captivating story. Michael Drayton's The Battle Of Agincourt is one such work.

At first glance, one might mistake The Battle Of Agincourt for a mere account of a historical event. However, Drayton's poetic prowess transforms this narrative into a vivid and emotional experience for the reader.

Structure and Technique

One of the most striking things about The Battle Of Agincourt is its structure. Drayton employs a unique blend of rhyme and meter to create a rhythm that mirrors the events of the battle. The poem is divided into four sections, each of which covers a different phase of the conflict.

The first section sets the stage for the battle, describing the armies and their preparations. Drayton's use of alliteration and assonance in this section creates a sense of tension and anticipation, building up to the battle itself:

The morn gan gray,
And all the heaven uplay,
And in a valley two hosts full gay
Began to dress them, both fresh and new.

The second section of the poem covers the initial clash between the two armies. Here, Drayton's use of imagery and metaphor brings the battle to life:

The French came on, and set themselves in ray,
The English stood, and made them good array;
The Frenchmen said, "God speed!" The Englishmen,
"Felagow!" then on each side let flie,
Arrows and quarrels, in the air did flie,
Then clashed together, the battle new begun.

The third section of the poem describes the turning point of the battle, when the English archers decimated the French cavalry with their longbows:

The Frenchmen then did set themselves to meet,
And with their sharp spears did the English fret,
But they them met, in such a gallant heat,
And forced them back, foot, horse, and all to get.
The French on heaps were thrown into the street,
Where horse and man did tread on them and beat,
The which discomforts did so far extend,
That of their men's despair their wits they lost,
And all the rest into the field them tossed,
To be cut down by whom the heavens did send.

Finally, the fourth section of the poem describes the aftermath of the battle, including the deaths of many of the French nobility:

The Duke of York, so cruelly they sought,
That with his life he dearly hath it bought;
The Earl of Suffolk, of courage clear,
The French did kill, with whom they had to do:
The brave Lord Willoughby did then appear,
That in his time did many battles woo,
Who, now I hope, hath ended his warfare.

Through this four-part structure, Drayton takes the reader on a journey through the battle, from its beginning to its bloody end.


Beyond its technical virtuosity, The Battle Of Agincourt also explores a number of deeper themes. One of the most prominent of these is the idea of national pride and identity.

Throughout the poem, Drayton portrays the English as brave and heroic, contrasting them with the cowardly and disorganized French:

The Frenchmen said, "God speed!" The Englishmen,
"Felagow!" then on each side let flie...
The French on heaps were thrown into the street,
Where horse and man did tread on them and beat,
The which discomforts did so far extend,
That of their men's despair their wits they lost.

Drayton's portrayal of the English as superior to the French is not just a matter of nationalistic pride, however. It is also a reflection of the larger political context of the time. The Battle Of Agincourt was written during a period of intense conflict between England and France, and the poem can be seen as a celebration of English military prowess and a call to arms against the French.


Overall, The Battle Of Agincourt is a masterpiece of English poetry. Drayton's expert use of rhyme and meter, combined with his vivid imagery and powerful themes, makes this poem a truly unforgettable experience.

But what can we take away from it? What lessons can we learn from the Battle Of Agincourt?

One possible interpretation is that the poem is a reminder of the importance of national identity and pride. In an era of increasing globalization and multiculturalism, it can be easy to lose sight of what makes our country and our culture unique. The Battle Of Agincourt reminds us that there is value in celebrating our national heritage and taking pride in our accomplishments.

Another interpretation is that the poem is a call to action. Just as the English soldiers rallied to defend their country against the French, so too must we be willing to stand up for what we believe in and defend our values against those who would seek to undermine them.

Whatever interpretation one takes, one thing is clear: The Battle Of Agincourt is a masterpiece of English literature, and a testament to the power of poetry to capture the human experience in all its complexity and nuance.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Battle of Agincourt by Michael Drayton is a classic poem that tells the story of one of the most significant battles in English history. The poem is a vivid and detailed account of the events that took place on the 25th of October 1415, when the English army, led by King Henry V, defeated the French army at Agincourt.

The poem is written in rhyming couplets, which gives it a musical quality and makes it easy to read. Drayton's use of language is also impressive, as he manages to convey the brutality of the battle while also capturing the heroism and bravery of the English soldiers.

The poem begins with a description of the English army as they prepare for battle. Drayton describes the soldiers as "a band of brothers" who are "full of spirit and zeal". He also notes that they are outnumbered by the French army, which makes their victory all the more impressive.

As the battle begins, Drayton describes the chaos and confusion that ensues. He notes that the French army is "like a sea that roars with rage" and that the English soldiers are "like a rock that stands unmoved". This contrast between the two armies is a recurring theme throughout the poem, as Drayton emphasizes the courage and determination of the English soldiers.

One of the most memorable parts of the poem is the description of the English archers. Drayton notes that they are "the glory of the field" and that their arrows "flew like hailstones". He also describes the devastating impact of their arrows on the French army, noting that they "fell like leaves in autumn".

Drayton also highlights the role of King Henry V in the battle. He notes that the king is "the heart and soul of all" and that he leads his soldiers with courage and determination. He also describes the moment when the king is wounded in battle, noting that he continues to fight despite his injuries.

The poem reaches its climax with the description of the final charge of the English soldiers. Drayton notes that they "rush like lions to the prey" and that they "strike like thunderbolts". He also describes the moment when the French army begins to retreat, noting that the English soldiers pursue them relentlessly.

In the final stanza of the poem, Drayton reflects on the significance of the battle. He notes that it was a "glorious day" for England and that it will be remembered for generations to come. He also notes that the battle was a testament to the courage and determination of the English soldiers, who were able to overcome overwhelming odds and emerge victorious.

Overall, The Battle of Agincourt is a powerful and evocative poem that captures the drama and excitement of one of the most significant battles in English history. Drayton's use of language and imagery is impressive, and he manages to convey the brutality of the battle while also highlighting the heroism and bravery of the English soldiers. The poem is a testament to the enduring legacy of the battle and a reminder of the courage and determination that it took to achieve victory.

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