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The Battle of Cressy

William Topaz McGonagall 1825 – 1902 (Greyfriars Parish, Edinburgh)

'Twas on the 26th of August, the sun was burning hot,
In the year of 1346, which will never be forgot,
Because the famous field of Cressy was slippery and gory,
By the loss of innocent blood which I'11 relate in story.

To the field of Cressy boldly King Philip did advance,
Aided by the Bohemian Army and chosen men of France,
And treble the strength of the English Army that day,
But the lance thrusts of the English soon made them give way.

The English Army was under the command of the Prince of Wales,
And with ringing cheers the soldiers his presence gladly hails,
As King Edward spoke to the Prince, his son, and said,
My son put thou thy trust in God and be not afraid,
And he will protect thee in the midst of the fight,
And remember God always defends the right.

Then the Prince knelt on one knee before the King,
Whilst the soldiers gathered round them in a ring;
Then the King commanded that the Prince should be carefully guarded,
And if they were victorious each man would be rewarded.

These arrangements being made, the Prince rode away,
And as he rode past the ranks, his spirits felt gay;
Then he ordered the men to refresh themselves without delay,
And prepare to meet the enemy in the coming deadly fray.

Then contentedly the men seated themselves upon the grass,
And ate and drank to their hearts content, until an hour did pass;
Meanwhile the French troops did advance in disorganised masses,
But as soon as the English saw them they threw aside their glasses.

And they rose and stood in the ranks as solid as the rock,
All ready and eager to receive the enemy's shock;
And as the morning was advancing a little beyond noon,
They all felt anxious for the fight, likewise to know their doom.

Then the French considered they were unable to begin the attack,
And seemed rather inclined for to draw back;
But Court D'Alencon ordered them on to the attack,
Then the rain poured down in torrents and the thunder did crack.

Then forward marched the French with mock shrill cries,
But the English their cries most bravely defies;
And as the sun shone out in all its brilliant array,
The English let fly their arrows at them without the least dismay.

And each man fought hard with sword and lance pell mell,
And the ranks were instantly filled up as soon as a man fell;
And the Count D'Alencon, boldly charged the Black Prince.
And he cried, yield you, Sir Knight, or I'll make you wince,

Ha, by St. George! thou knowest not what thou sayest,
Therefore yield thyself, Sir Frenchman, for like an ass thou brayest;
Then planting his lance he ran at the Count without fear,
And the Count fell beneath the Black Prince's spear.

And the Black Prince and his men fought right manfully,
By this time against some forty thousand of the enemy,
Until the Prince recognised the banner of Bohemia floating in the air;
Then he cried that banner shall be mine, by St. George I do swear.

On! on! for old England, he cried, on! gentlemen on!
And spur your chargers quickly, and after them begone;
Then the foremost, a slight youth, to the Prince did reply,
My Prince, I'll capture that banner for you else I will die.

Ha! cried the Prince, is it thou my gallant Jack of Kent,
Now charge with me my brave lad for thou has been sent
By God, to aid me in the midst of the fight,
So forward, and wield your cudgel with all your might.

Then right into the midst of the Bohemian Knights they fought their way,
Brave Jack o' the Cudgel and the Prince without dismay;
And Jack rushed at the Standard Bearer without any dread,
And struck him a blow with his cudgel which killed him dead.

Then Jack bore off the Standard, to the Prince's delight,
Then the French and the Bohemians instantly took to flight;
And as the last rays of the sun had faded in the west,
The wounded and dying on both sides longed for rest.

And Philip, King of France, was wounded twice in the fray,
And was forced to fly from the field in great dismay;
And John of Hainault cried, come sire, come away,
I hope you will live to win some other day.

Then King Edward and his army, and the Prince his son,
Knelt down and thanked God for the victory won;
And the King's heart was filled with great delight,
And he thanked Jack for capturing the Bohemian Standard during the fight.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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William Topaz McGonagall

William Topaz McGonagall (March 1825 – 29 September 1902) was an Irish weaver, poet and actor who lived in Scotland. He won notoriety as an extremely bad poet who exhibited no recognition of, or concern for, his peers' opinions of his work. He wrote about 200 poems, including "The Tay Bridge Disaster" and "The Famous Tay Whale", which are widely regarded as some of the worst in English literature. Groups throughout Scotland engaged him to make recitations from his work, and contemporary descriptions of these performances indicate that many listeners were appreciating McGonagall's skill as a comic music hall character. Collections of his verse remain popular, with several volumes available today. McGonagall has been lampooned as the worst poet in British history. The chief criticisms are that he was deaf to poetic metaphor and unable to scan correctly. His only apparent understanding of poetry was his belief that it needed to rhyme. McGonagall's fame stems from the humorous effects these shortcomings are considered to generate in his work. Scholars argue that his inappropriate rhythms, weak vocabulary, and ill-advised imagery combine to make his work amongst the most unintentionally amusing dramatic poetry in the English language. His work is in a long tradition of narrative ballads and verse written and published about great events and tragedies, and widely circulated among the local population as handbills. In an age before radio and television, their voice was one way of communicating important news to an avid public. more…

All William Topaz McGonagall poems | William Topaz McGonagall Books

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    "The Battle of Cressy" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41858/the-battle-of-cressy>.

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