Marriott Edgar

(1880 - 1951 / Kirkcudbright / Scotland)

Canute the Great


I'll tell of Canute, King of England,
A native of Denmark was he,
His hobbies was roving and raiding
And paddling his feet in the sea.

By trade he were what's called a Viking,
Every summer he'd visit our shore,
Help himself to whatever he wanted,
And come back in the autumn for more.

These trips always showed him a profit,
But what stumped him to know was this 'ere...
Where the English folk got all the money,
He came and took off them each year.

After duly considering the matter,
He concluded as how his best course,
Were to have an invasion of England,
And tap the supply at its source.

He got other Vikings to join him,
With a promise of plunder and spoil,
And raked up atrocity stories,
To bring all their blood to the boil.

They landed one morning at Weymouth,
And waited for fight to begin,
While their foe, Ethelred the Unready,
Found his army and got it fell in.

When the battle were done, Crown of England,
Changed heads, so the history book states,
From Ethelred's seven-and-a-quarter,
To King Canutes six-and-five-eights.

The Vikings was cheered as the winners,
Ethelred, he went somewhere and died,
And Canute, to his lasting atonement...
Made the widow, Queen Emma, his bride.

She started to teach him his manners,
To drink without wetting his nose,
Put his hand to his mouth and say "Pardon!",
Every time the occasion arose.

She said his companions was vulgar,
His habits more easy than free,
Made him promise no more to disgrace her,
By paddling his feet in the sea.

At the time this 'ere promise meant nothing,
It were made in the cool of the spring,
But when summer came in with a heat wave,
T' were a totally different thing.

He moved his court down to the seaside,
Where they took off their shoes and their socks,
And rushed to the water and left him,
Alone on his throne on the rocks.

Said one, "Come on King, have a paddle,
I'll look after your sceptre and crown."
He replied, "Nay, I promised the missus,
And I can't let the old... lady down."

"No need to do that," said the Tempter,
"The tide's coming in, as you see;
You promised you wouldn't go to it,
But you can't stop it coming to thee!"

And that's how it happened... that later,
When Emma came over the sands,
She found Canute knee deep in water,
Trying to shush the sea back with his hands.

For not letting on that he'd seen her,
He was chiding each wave as it came,
Saying, "Thus far, my lad, and no further!"
'Til Emma said, "What is this game?"

He replied, These 'ere flatterers told me,
That the sea would obey me, and so,
I'm giving them this demonstration,
To show what a fat lot they know."

"You're doing quite right," shouted Emma,
"It's time someone made them look small!"
Then she took off her shoes and her stockings,
And started to paddle an' all.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Read poems about / on: sea, summer, history, water, autumn, money, spring, time, alone, change

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  • Fred Newman, Iv (6/11/2010 12:28:00 PM)

    I love old history. This a great poem. Look me up, if you would, and give me your opinion on some of my own. (Report) Reply

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