Harry Takes the Field [poem]

Harry trudged to Agincourt, ankle deep
in mud, and wistful, weary, thought of sleep;
thought of crowns and souls, and old life-goals told
to empty rooms when he was young and brash.
The world still thought him young, beguiled by gold
and trinkets made of names. Names are just ash,
he’d learned, had taught himself, but writ in blood
they thicken, may be set and shaped like mud.
But spilt in love it must be, willingly,
and for a cause near-just (but only near–
for mortal men justice runs crookedly
as any crab). He held his soldiers dear,
like children, brothers, even as he spent
their lives like coin.
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. The royal French, they bent
the weight of all their bitter scorn on him,
and vowed they’d eat his heart where all could see,
would drive his army down into the grim
shadow of the grave. Surely victory,
they said (and all the world with them agreed)
must go to those with strength, with eager steed
and arms still fresh, not yet worn down like teeth
on sand or bone. The outcome’s known. Why try?
Return your rusty sword to battered sheath,
bow your head and bend your stubborn knee. Why
take the field when you cannot win the war?
But Harry — he went down to Agincourt.

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