Verse > Anthologies > Harvard Classics > English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray
   English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
32. A Gest of Robyn Hode
The Eighth Fytte
Traditional Ballads
‘Haste thou ony grene cloth,’ sayd our kynge,
  ‘That thou wylte sell nowe to me?’
‘Ye, for God,’ sayd Robyn,
  ‘Thyrty yerdes and thre.’
‘Robyn,’ sayd our kynge,        5
  ‘Now pray I the,
Sell me some of that cloth,
  To me and my meynë.’
‘Yes, for God,’ then sayd Robyn,
  ‘Or elles I were a fole;        10
Another day ye wyll me clothe,
  I trowe, ayenst the Yole.’ 1
The kynge kest of his cole then,
  A grene garment he dyde on,
And every knyght also, iwys,        15
  Another had full sone.
Whan they were clothed in Lyncolne grene,
  They keste away theyr graye;
‘Now we shall to Notyngham,’
  All thus our kynge gan say.        20
They bente theyr bowes and forth they went,
  Shotynge all in-fere, 2
Towarde the towne of Notyngham,
  Outlawes as they were.
Our kynge and Robyn rode togyder,        25
  For soth as I you say,
And they shote plucke-buffet,
  As they went by the way.
And many a buffet our kynge wan
  Of Robyn Hode that day,        30
And nothynge spared good Robyn
  Our kynge when he did pay.
‘So God me helpë,’ sayd our kynge,
  ‘Thy game is nought to lere; 3
I sholde not get a shote of the,        35
  Though I shote all this yere.’
All the people of Notyngham
  They stode and behelde;
They sawe nothynge but mantels of grene
  That covered all the felde.        40
Than every man to other gan say,
  ‘I drede our kynge be slone 4;
Come Robyn Hode to the towne, i-wys
  On lyve he lefte never one.’
Full hastely they began to fle,        45
  Both yemen and knaves,
And olde wyves that myght evyll goo,
  They hypped on theyr staves.
The kynge loughe full fast,
  And commaunded theym agayne;        50
When they se our comly kynge,
  I-wys they were full fayne.
They ete and dranke, and made them glad,
  And sange with notës hye;
Than bespake our comly kynge        55
  To Syr Richarde at the Lee.
He gave hym there his londe agayne,
  A good man he bad hym be;
Robyn thanked our comly kynge,
  And set hym on his kne.        60
Had Robyn dwelled in the kynges courte
  But twelve monethes and thre,
That he had spent an hondred pounde,
  And all his mennes fe.
In every place where Robyn came        65
  Ever more he layde downe, 5
Both for knyghtës and for squyres,
  To gete hym grete renowne.
By than the yere was all agone
  He had no man but twayne,        70
Lytell Johan and good Scathelocke,
  With hym all for to gone.
Robyn sawe yonge men shote
  Full faire upon a day;
‘Alas!’ than sayd good Robyn,        75
  ‘My welthe is went away.
‘Somtyme I was an archere good,
  A styffe and eke a stronge;
I was compted the best archere
  That was in mery Englonde.        80
‘Alas!’ then sayd good Robyn,
  ‘Alas and well a woo!
Yf I dwele lenger with the kynge,
  Sorowe wyll me sloo.’
Forth than went Robyn Hode        85
  Tyll he came to our kynge:
‘My lorde the kynge of Englonde,
  Graunte me myn askynge.
‘I made a chapell in Bernysdale,
  That semely is to se,        90
It is of Mary Magdaleyne,
  And thereto wolde I be.
‘I myght never in this seven nyght
  No tyme to slepe ne wynke,
Nother all these seven dayes        95
  Nother ete ne drynke.
‘Me longeth sore to Bernysdale,
  I may not be therfro;
Barefote and wolwarde 6 I have hyght 7
  Thyder for to go.’        100
‘Yf it be so,’ than sayd our kynge,
  ‘It may no better be;
Seven nyght I gyve the leve,
  No lengre, to dwell fro me.’
‘Gramercy, lorde,’ then sayd Robyn,        105
  And set hym on his kne;
He toke his leve full courteysly,
  To grene wode then went he.
Whan he came to grene wode,
  In a mery mornynge,        110
There he herde the notës small
  Of byrdës mery syngynge.
‘It is ferre gone,’ sayd Robyn,
  ‘That I was last here;
Me lyste 8 a lytell for to shote        115
  At the donnë dere.’
Robyn slewe a full grete harte;
  His horne than gan he blow,
That all the outlawes of that forest
  That horne coud they knowe,        120
And gadred them togyder,
  In a lytell throwe.
Seven score of wyght yonge men
  Came redy on a rowe,
And fayre dyde of theyr hodes,        125
  And set them on theyr kne:
‘Welcome,’ they sayd, ‘our mayster,
  Under this grene-wode tre.’
Robyn dwelled in grene wode
  Twenty yere and two;        130
For all drede of Edwarde our kynge,
  Agayne wolde he not goo.
Yet he was begyled, i-wys,
  Through a wycked woman,
The pryoresse of Kyrkësly,        135
  That nye was of hys kynne:
For the love of a knyght,
  Syr Roger of Donkesly,
That was her ownë speciall;
  Full evyll mote they the! 9        140
They toke togyder theyr counsell
  Robyn Hode for to sle,
And how they myght best do that dede,
  His banis 10 for to be.
Than bespake good Robyn,        145
  In place where as he stode,
‘Tommorow I muste to Kyrke[s]ly,
  Craftely 11 to be leten blode.’
Syr Roger of Donkestere,
  By the pryoresse he lay,        150
And there they betrayed good Robyn Hode,
  Through theyr falsë playe.
Cryst have mercy on his soule,
  That dyed on the rode!
For he was a good outlawe,        155
  And dyde pore men moch god.
Note 1. Went. [back]
Note 2. Thoughtfully. [back]
Note 3. Unless I like. [back]
Note 4. Dun. [back]
Note 5. In preparation for Christmas. [back]
Note 6. Together. [back]
Note 7. You do not need to learn your game. [back]
Note 8. Slain. [back]
Note 9. Paid liberally. [back]
Note 10. Doing penance by wearing woo! next the skin. [back]
Note 11. Promised. [back]


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