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King Canute - On a sunny day in early May | 31-Mar-10

On a sunny day in early May,
One thousand and thirty three,
King Canute took his bathing suit
And came down to the sea.
The sea was cold - the King was old
He very soon changed his mind
And he sat down there in an old deckchair
(His courtiers stood behind).

14 comments have been made on this quote. Click here to read them and then add your own!


Do you know this poem? Do you have any clues to help us find it?


Comments:

I participated in a play in primary school in Zimbabwe in the 1970's and can only continue the poem for you a bit-
'Although I'm King, not a single thing, is ever done to please me. My bath was not, what I'd call hot and now you try to freeze me.

The teacher who was in charge of this play is named Jinty-Joy Rawson and she is on Facebook. She should be able to give you more details. I remember the whole play..... fondly.
Marshall Chard

Yes - I too am looking for this poem that I had to recite (with with class) at an eisteddford yeras ago.

In addition to Marshall Chand's contribution, I can add:

"It is not we
Your Majesty
The fault it is the Sea"

"I told it precisely
To heat itself nicely
To 65 degrees.."

I'm afraid that's where my knowledge ends - anyone else got more of this.

I loved this poem!!!
Mary Stone

'If it declines, though the sun still shines, the remedy sire is yours. Speak to it strongly, for acting so wrongly, and banish it from your shores.'


Marshall Chard

I have fond memories of this poem way back in the 1950s.
Would love to see all of it again. Here is my contribution following on from "banish it from your shores"

Thank you my man an excellent plan, I'll show it I'm not afraid.
A king should swim when it pleases him and never be disobeyed
Sea North sea just listen to me, my orders are firm and plain
You will leave this beach at the end of my speech and never return again
From far and wide they watched the tide to see the retreat begin
And got ready to shout as the sea moved out, but still the sea moved in
Oh sire we beseech, repeat your speech the sea could not have heard
But King Canute stood firm and mute refusing to say a word

I forget the next bit but it has something about the sea reaching his toes then his knees and then this...

His Majesty felt it reach to his belt and he shouted firm and clear
Sea North sea just listen to me my orders are firm and plain.
Come right in shore as you did before and then go out again

I think there was a moral at the end but can't remember how it starts.
I think the last lines are..

Kings may come and kings may go but the sea goes on forever

I hope this will jog some memories and help to recall this fun poem
Annie Watkins

I have a copy of the poem if still interested.
Howard Milne

I've only just come upon this site, so my contribution is probably far too late. Anyhow, I took part in a school play at the age of 7 in 1950 in Gravesend. I do remember bits of the poem, but the only line that someone else has not already mentioned comes after Canute tells the tide to come in as normal and THEN go out again. The line goes; ''The folk on the pier raised cheer upon cheer, it was marvelous to behold them, as the waves rolled in, and in, and in, exactly as he had told them.''
That's all I remember.
John Rushmer

My brother and I learned it in primary school in Australia in about 1959 and this is our joint effort:

One sunny day in early May
One thousand and thirty three
King Canute took his bathing suit
And went down to the sea

The sea was cold and the king was old
He very soon changed his mind.
He sat down there in an old deck chair
And his courtiers stood behind.

?Sea, North Sea! Just listen to me!
My orders are clear and plain.
You will leave this beach at the end of my speech
And never come here again?.


Dr Marguerite Wells

I have put everybody's memories together and tested them against my brother's. Here it is. Please could Howard Milne correct it from his copy? And does he have the title and the poet's name? Even a date?

One sunny day in early May
One thousand and thirty three
King Canute took his bathing suit
And went down to the sea

The sea was cold and the king was old
He very soon changed his mind
He sat down there in an old deck chair
And his courtiers stood behind

?Although I'm King, not a single thing
Is ever done to please me
My bath was not what I'd call hot
And now you try to freeze me?

"It is not we, your Majesty
The fault it is the sea?s
I told it precisely to heat itself nicely
To sixty-five degrees

?If it declines, though the sun still shines,
The remedy, Sire, is yours.
Speak to it strongly, for acting so wrongly,
And banish it from your shores.?

?Thank you my man, an excellent plan
I'll show it I'm not afraid
A king should swim when it pleases him
And never be disobeyed

?Sea, North Sea just listen to me,
My orders are clear and plain
You will leave this beach at the end of my speech
And never come here again?

From far and wide they watched the tide
To see the retreat begin
And got ready to shout as the sea moved out
But still the sea moved in

?Oh sire we beseech, repeat your speech
The sea could not have heard?
But King Canute stood firm and mute
Refusing to say a word

The sea crept on till the beach was gone

Something about the sea reaching his toes
then his knees and then

His Majesty felt it reach to his belt
And he shouted firm and clear

?Sea, North Sea! Just listen to me
My orders are firm and plain
Come right in shore as you did before
And then go out again?

The folk on the pier raised cheer upon cheer,
It was marvellous to behold them,
As the waves rolled in, and in, and in,
Exactly as he had told them.

Something more here ?

Kings may come and kings may go
But the sea goes on forever





Dr Marguerite Wells

I learnt this poem in Primary School in 1959. I think it might have been published in the School Magazine around about that time.

I am teaching my Grade Six class about the Middle Ages and would love to teach them this poem. I'd be grateful if Howard Milne posted the entire version.

My memory could be playing tricks on me but I seem to remember a line like: "Back, back!" he cried but the sea would not obey... something like that.
Rosina Mihajlovic

please Howard let's have the whole poem
Trevor Cope

I would also really like to obtain a copy of the entire poem. Did a mini school play with this poem way back in 1971. It was great. I would like to pass it on to my daughter who wants to use it next year in her English poetry class. If anyone can help, - will be very grateful.



Erika Neubauer

King Canute

with bits from all !

On a sunny day in early May
One thousand and sixty three
King Canute took his bathing suit
And went down to the sea

The sea was cold and the king was old
He very soon changed his mind
He sat down there in an old deck chair
And his courtiers stood behind

Although I'm King, not a single thing
Is ever done to please me
My bath was not what I'd call hot
And now you try to freeze me?

"It is not we, your Majesty
The fault it is the seas
I told it precisely to heat itself nicely
To sixty-five degrees

If it declines, though the sun still shines,
The remedy, Sire, is yours.
Speak to it strongly, for acting so wrongly,
And banish it from your shores.

Thank you my man, an excellent plan
I'll show it I'm not afraid
A king should swim when it pleases him
And never be disobeyed

Sea, North Sea just you listen to me,
My orders are clear and plain
You will leave this beach at the end of this speech
And never return again

From far and wide they watched the tide
To see the retreat begin
And got ready to shout as the sea moved out
But still the sea moved in and in

Oh sire we beseech, repeat your speech
The sea could not have heard
But King Canute stood firm and mute
Refusing to say a word

The sea crept in and in and in
The courtiers retired to the pier
The tide came on and on and on
And soon the beach was gone

His majesty felt it reach his toes
From toes it moved to knees
His Majesty felt it reach to his belt
And he shouted firm and clear

Sea, North Sea! Just listen to me
My orders are firm and plain
Come right in shore as you did before
And then go out again

The folk on the pier raised cheer upon cheer,
It was marvellous to behold them,
As the waves rolled in, and in, and in,
Exactly as he had told them.

Kings may come they say and kings may go
But the sea goes on forever

Trevor Cope

In the absence of any more authoritative versions I submit the following end to the poem. The lines indicated with asterisks are my own contributions, they are as close as I can guess to the originals both in terms of content and and rhyming convention. It would be great though if someone came up with the original poem

King Canute

On a sunny day in early May
One thousand and thirty three
King Canute took his bathing suit
And came down to the sea

The sea was cold the king was old
He very soon changed his mind
He sat down there in an old deck chair
His courtiers stood behind

Although I am king not a single thing
Is ever done to please me
My bath is not what I?d call hot
And now you try to freeze me

It is not we your majesty
The fault is of the sea
We told it precisely to heat itself nicely
At sixty four degrees

If it declines though the sun still shines
The remedy sire is yours
Speak to it strongly for acting so wrongly
And banish it from your shores

Thank you my man an excellent plan
I?ll show it I?m not afraid
A king should swim when it pleases him
And never be disobeyed

Sea North sea just listen to me
My orders are firm and plain
You will leave this beach at the end of my speech
And never return again

From far and wide they watched the tide
To see the retreat begin
And got ready to shout as the sea moved out
But still the sea moved in

Oh sire we beseech repeat your speech
The sea could not have heard
But king Canute stood firm and mute
Refusing to say a word

As daylight dimmed a howling wind **
Swept dark clouds o?er the moon **
The folks on the pier began to fear **
But the king sat still as stone **

The sea crept on till the beach was gone
But the king sat resolute **
The waves they rose and tickled his toes
But still the king was mute **

He started to freeze as they reached to his knees
But still he showed no fear **
His majesty felt them reach to his belt
And he shouted for all to hear **

Sea North sea just listen to me
My orders are firm and plain
Come right in shore as you did before
And then go out again

The folks on the pier raised cheer upon cheer
T?was marvellous to behold them
And the waves on shore rolled in once more
Exactly as he told them

We?ve come without fail to the end of our tale **
A tale of bold endeavour **
Kings may come and kings may go
But the sea goes on forever





Annie Watkins

I learnt this poem in Teachers College in 1963 in Tasmania. It was told to us by Clive Sansom who was a lecturer in Speech in Hobart I believe and whom I thought had written it. I did have a booklet written by him containing this poem I have taught it several times since but have lost the copy. The last version is pretty right as I remember it.
Carolyn Vollprecht


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