Hengist and Horsa
Land left unguarded by Roman might
painted Picts came southward,
swift warriors, in stealth and at night.
Half naked Hiberni came westward
from the long Irish shore
ruthless looters, adept with the sword.
Vortigern wanted raiders no more.
So he called defenders,
yes he called defenders,
and defenders came riding the waves
with longboat and oar.
Vortigern bought the fiercest fighters,
for their fearless battle bold prowess.
The mighty best of those that he found
stormed uncertain rough deep
skirting the coast they then came aground
in Pegwell bay, Ebbsfleet.
So landed the Jutemen,
the best of the Jutemen,
the first of the Jutemen and Saxons
this lush land to keep.
Menacing mist lay on the water
as on Britannia’s sand
stepped those Jute twins Hengist and Horsa.
Chieftain brothers in search of new land
for their own Danish tribe.
Straight to battle with smiting sword hand;
stood at Vortigern’s side
they slaughtered Pict raiders
the painted Pict raiders,
they repelled Pict raiders who ran back
to the Northlands to hide.
Fine feasting with wild mead drinking
took place in the palace
where Hengist and Horsa were staying.
Fringed by the legacy lands in place
Hengist liked what he saw
told Vortigern that to keep them safe
his warriors would need many more
So Hengist sent for Jutes.
Yes he sent for more Jutes
and more Jute warriors came sailing
Britannia’s fertile shore.
In return for their might the Jutemen
were given, the fertile
coastal Isle of Thanet to live on.
Hengist in conciliatory style
asked for a ‘hide of land’
Vortigern who thought just a short while
gave all to the devious Juteman;
who sought the biggest bull
then slew the biggest bull
stripped the big bull’s hide then thinly sliced
and stretched it with his hand.
The stretched bull hide a vast circle drew
upon Britannia’s ground,
in which Hengist built a fortress new
to keep his expanding foothold sound.
Into this fortress went
his daughter, the fairest to be found
Vortigern’s hunger would not relent
so he took Rowena
fair beguiling Rowena
beautiful blue-eyed Rowena and gave
Hengist the land of Kent.
Comments about this poem (Hengist and Horsa by Diana Rosser )
Top 500 Poems
The Road Not Taken
If You Forget Me
Still I Rise
Edgar Allan Poe
William Ernest Henley
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings