Anglo-Saxon Poetry

Ode To Senlac Ridge

Tis often said

King Harold was dead

Up on Senlac Ridge

Arrow from the sky

Took out it his eye

Up on Senlac Ridge

Tis more recently thought

Harold not thoroughly sought

Amongst the dead of Senlac Ridge

Saxon joy unfound

His body ne’er found

Amongst the dead of Senlac Ridge

Tis sometimes said

Another body was instead

The King of Senlac Ridge

That body was for sure

Buried at sea shore

The King of Senlac Ridge

Tis quietly spoke

By Anglo-Saxon folk

After Senlac Ridge

Harold escaped the fight

And put to flight

After Senlac Ridge

Tis often yearned

Of Harold’s return

In revenge for Senlac Ridge

Rebellion on his mind

Kick the Bastard’s behind

In revenge for Senlac Ridge

Tis sometimes spake

He became The Wake

Repaid William for Senlac Ridge

Evaded capture with skill

Normans he did kill

Repaid William for Senlac Ridge

Tis often told

The Wake grew old

Honour repaid for Senlac Ridge

A monk’s life he would keep

In Bosham he would weep

Honour repaid for Senlac Ridge

(Paul Bailey 2011)

The Last Saxon Shieldwall

Side by side they stood
A famous brotherhood
The Housecarls of the Wall
Held their shield and sword
Gave protection to their Lord
The Housecarls of the Wall

Brutal punishment they’d take
Norman cavalry tried to shake
Those soldiers from the Wall
Sally forth and then retreat
Different tactics tried to beat
Those soldiers from the Wall

Norman destrier and Knight
Tried with all their might
To breach that Saxon Wall
Farmer, commoner and Thegn
Bound together and retained
That Anglo-Saxon Wall

For many hours it did stand
Parry, thrust and then backhand
Fought the soldiers of the Wall
Norman arrow, sword and lance
Took their aim for half a chance
To pierce that solid Wall

Norman infantry feigned retreat
William’s horse did him unseat
Loud cheers sang from the Wall
Saxons chased them down the hill
Norman cavalry them did kill
A hole appeared in the Wall

No quarter did they give
Their honour just to live
Those heroes of the Wall
Just survive the day
Reinforcements on their way
Those heroes of the Wall

Many hours did take its toll
Now fewer numbers on the knoll
Stood the finest Saxon Wall
The fittest and the brave
On their own did try to save
The finest Saxon Wall

Senlac Ridge was where
King Harold did prepare
That final Saxon Wall
In Hasting’s autumn sun
Died there one by one
The final Saxon Wall

Many corpses lay around
That final killing ground
Of Senlac’s Saxon Wall
Normans, Saxons and a King

Heaven’s Angels for them sing 

A tribute to them all

(Paul Bailey 2011)

Hereward the Wake

As an exile he returned

To a land all raped and burned

Seeking vengeance for his people

The Normans had laid waste

To the Fens, his fields, his space

Took shelter under Ely’s steeple

Rebellion now on his mind

To fight for Anglo-Saxon kind

Seeking vengeance for his people

Anglo-Saxon King now dead

Duke William ruled instead

Rebels grew under Ely’s steeple

Harass, probe and then retreat

The Normans grew cold feet

Gave hope to his rebellious people

Anglo-Saxons gave applause

To his rally and his cause

An army gathered under Ely’s steeple

Duke William went to meet

His Norman army in retreat

Gave guidance to his people

No quarter to be given

“Kill them all, none to be living”

Dark clouds surround Ely’s steeple

Twas not an easy task

Through bog, mulch and marsh

To make battle against Saxon people

As they sheltered on an isle

With local knowledge as their guile

Saxons made defence of Ely’s steeple

For days and days they tried

To move Saxons from their isle

Divine help saves Saxon people

Some Monks that William swayed

To their people have betrayed

Safe passage to Ely’s steeple

Norman victory is in their grasp

Saxons battle to the last

The Exile fights for his own people

Battles on for Saxon’s sake

The last hero, Hereward the Wake
Honour remembered under Ely’s steeple
(Paul Bailey 2011)

Ode to Stamford Bridge
September 1066 they came
Viking, Norseman, and the Danes
For the prize of England’s North
Three hundred longships came in tow
Up the Ouse they had to row
Their hungry eyes on York

With them was the King’s brother
Come to cause a lot of bother
Back to reclaim England’s North
Rape, pillage and to burn
Harsh lessons for the North to learn
Tostig’s eyes are set on York

English Earls decide to wait
Make battle at Fulford Gate
Defend the capital of the North
Alas the Anglo-Saxons are outdone
The Norsemen have overrun
Their prized city of York

King Harold is aghast
His army march north fast
To meet the Viking invasion
Get the timing right
Surprise the invaders in fight
Wait for the right occasion

T’was a hot summers day
When Harold met his prey
At a place called Stamford Bridge
Viking armour left at their base
Tostig parleyed face to face
On the banks of Stamford Bridge

The battle was no match
The Vikings were despatched
Saxon victory at the Bridge
Tostig and Viking King were dead
All Viking dreams ripped to shreds

Honour restored at Stamford Bridge
(Paul Bailey 2011)

Harrowing of the North

An independent State they cherish

But many lives will perish

For the people of the North

Rebel against the Norman King

They could lose everything

For the freedom of the North

Northern Earls take a chance

To William’s tune they will not dance

Sit tight under York’s holy steeple

King William is not amused

Ready now to light the fuse

Dark times for Northern people

Norman army marches north

Soldiers and cavalry sally forth

To punish Northern people

Rape, plunder and to pillage

Bloodshed found in every village

No pity for Northern people

1070 was that fateful year

That every Northerner had to fear

Starvation for Northern people

No house or field is left unturned

Crops are wasted; fields are burned

Lesson learnt for these poor people

Northern Earls flee in disorder

Finding safety across the border

Independence had lost its zeal

The devastation was so great

Northerners would have to wait

A decade for the scars to heal
(Paul Bailey 2011)

King Harold Lives

History tells us of a time

When Normans came to commit a crime

English invasion made under false claim

Kill the Saxon King was William’s aim

King Harold’s coronation was not recognised

By the Church or by Papal eyes

Duke William sought to take a chance

For a Papal blessing with the Devil he'd dance

“Remove this unjust King”

The Papal message then did ring

William was too happy to oblige

For England’s bounty was in his eyes

The Papal banner flying by his side

Duke William fights with God he cried

At Hastings he fought the Saxon wall

For almost a day it would not fall

As dusk approached the sun did set

King Harold’s death was surely met

A mass of limbs was all they found

Strewn with many torsos on the ground

Is that Harold? They were not sure

They asked his mistress so mild and pure

“Yes that’s him” she meekly lied

Then to the ground she sobbed and cried

Normans satisfied with her plea

Buried that body by the sea

The real Harold the fight he’d fled

Safe to fight another day instead

Perhaps his Crown he would forsake

Perhaps he returned as Hereward the Wake

When Harold died we are not sure

But his legend lives on forever more
(Paul Bailey 2011)