The Eve of Crecy

by William Morris

Gold on her head, and gold on her feet,
And gold where the hems of her kirtle meet,
And a golden girdle round my sweet;
     Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.

Margaret's maids are fair to see,
Freshly dress'd and pleasantly;
Margaret's hair falls down to her knee;
     Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.

If I were rich I would kiss her feet;
I would kiss the place where the gold hems meet,
And the golden kirtle round my sweet:
     Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.

Ah me! I have never touch'd her hand;
When the arrière-ban goes through the land,
Six basnets under my pennon stand;
     Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.

And many an one grins under his hood:
Sir Lambert du Bois, with all his men good,
Has neither food nor firewood;
     Ah! qu'elle est belle la Marguerite.

If I were rich I would kiss her feet,
And the golden girdle of my sweet,
And thereabouts where the gold hems meet;
     Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.

Yet even now it is good to think,
While my few poor varlets grumble and drink
In my desolate hall, where the fires sink,--
     Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite,--

Of Margaret sitting glorious there,
In glory of gold and glory of hair,
And glory of glorious face most fair;
     Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.

Likewise to-night I make good cheer,
Because this battle draweth near:
For what have I to lose or fear?
     Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.

For, look you, my horse is good to prance
A right fair measure in this war-dance,
Before the eyes of Philip of France;
     Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.

And sometime it may hap, perdie,
While my new towers stand up three and three,
And my hall gets painted fair to see--
     Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite--

That folks may say: Times change, by the rood,
For Lambert, banneret of the wood,
Has heaps of food and firewood;
     Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.

 

 


Art Nouveau Poster Absinthe c1912

Title:

Eve of Crecy, The

Poet:

Morris, William

Year of Publication:

1890

Category:

History

Type:

Narrative

Meter:

aaab

Literary Period:

Victorian

Things to Discuss:

How are we able to bring this into the frame of the eve of a battle in which the French suffered an ignominious defeat. Why did Morris introduce a French officer, Lambert du Bois, as part of the evening’s soiree?

About the Poem:

The battle of Crecy, in which Edward III was victorious over the French, was fought in August 1346. It was one of the most important battles of the Hundred Years War. A war that began during the reign of Edward III in 1337and lasted until Henry VI in 1453. This particular battle was won by the English. The wars began when the English laid claim to the French Crown. The end result was the English were expelled from the whole of France, with the exception of the coastal port of Calais.

About the Poet:

William Morris (1834-1896) an English artist, designer of furnishings, poet, self-announced socialist, and architect. He studied with Dante Gabriel Rossetti, established his own manufacturing and decorating firm known as Morris & Co. He was fascinated by old historical events and much of his writing includes translations of the early Greek and Norse heroic tales. He was an admirer of the social reformist, John Ruskin.