We all know the story of King Canute don't we? The arrogant and foolish king who thought he could stop the tide from coming in? Well think again.
In fact, Canute (or Cnut) was a wise and good king. He had become fed up of his subjects acting as though he was all-powerful, so he arranged the stunt on the beach knowing he would fail, to prove to them that he was just a human like them.
This poem by Paul Perro however, tells the story as though Canute was actually foolish and arrogant, because ... well, because it's more fun that way.
Ah, poor misunderstood Cnut.
After you have enjoyed this poem, please scroll down further to find out more about the old king.
There once was an old king called King Canute,
And he was a very bossy old brute.
“Bring me my crown, and hurry!” he would say,
He told everyone what to do all day.
He said to the queen “I like being the king
And being in charge of everything.”
The queen looked at King Canute, and she laughed.
She said “Not everything, don’t be daft.
You couldn’t command the wind not to blow,
You couldn’t command a tree not to grow.
You’re not in charge of the birds or the bees,
The sun or the moon, the skies or the seas.
“Oh yes I am” said the King, getting cross
“I am, I’ll prove it; I’ll show you who’s boss!”
He called the servants together and then
He bellowed out an order to his men:
"Pick up my throne and take it to the beach,
There is a lesson that I want to teach.”
So they carried his throne down to the ocean
Followed by crowds, there was quite a commotion.
Canute sat on the throne facing the sea
And spoke to it with great authority.
“I am your king and I give this command -
Stay where you are, do not come on this sand”
But the sea didn’t listen to the king.
No-one can stop the tide from coming in.
As the waves kept advancing up the shore
The red-faced king tried to halt them once more.
“I am the King, you must do as I say,
I command you to go back, right away.”
But the waves still came, right up to his feet.
Canute sighed sadly, admitting defeat.
He faced the queen and said “You won the bet
And I have got my royal slippers wet.
I did my best, but no, I came up short.
I guess I’m not as powerful as I thought.”
Back to the Middle Ages