Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.

Agincourt (Azincourt)


By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

NOW entertain conjecture of a time,

When creeping murmur, and the poring dark,

Fills the wide vessel of the universe.

From camp to camp, through the foul womb of Night,

The hum of either army stilly sounds,

That the fix’d sentinels almost receive

The secret whispers of each other’s watch;

Fire answers fire, and through their paly flames

Each battle sees the other’s umber’d face;

Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful neighs

Piercing the Night’s dull ear; and from the tents,

The armourers, accomplishing the knights,

With busy hammers closing rivets up,

Give dreadful note of preparation:

The country cocks do crow, the clocks do toll,

And the third hour of drowsy morning name.

Proud of their numbers, and secure in soul,

The confident and over-lusty French

Do the low-rated English play at dice;

And chide the cripple tardy-gaited Night,

Who, like a foul and ugly witch, doth limp

So tediously away. The poor condemned English,

Like sacrifices, by their watchful fires

Sit patiently, and inly ruminate

The morning’s danger; and their gestures sad,

Investing lank-lean cheeks and war-worn coats,

Presenteth them unto the gazing moon

So many horrid ghosts. O, now, who will behold

The royal captain of this ruin’d band,

Walking from watch to watch, from tent to tent,

Let him cry, Praise and glory on his head!

For forth he goes, and visits all his host;

Bids them good morrow, with a modest smile;

And calls them brothers, friends, and countrymen.

Upon his royal face there is no note

How dread an army hath enrounded him,

Nor doth he dedicate one jot of color

Unto the weary and all-watched night;

But freshly looks, and over-bears attaint

With cheerful semblance and sweet majesty;

That every wretch, pining and pale before,

Beholding him, plucks comfort from his looks.

A largess universal, like the sun,

His liberal eye doth give to every one,

Thawing cold fear.