Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
114. Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough, and William of Cloudesley
Fytte the First
MERY it was in the grene foreste
  Amonge the levès grene,
Wheras men hunt east and west
  Wyth bowes and arrowes kene;

To raise the dere out of theyr denne;
  Suche sightes hath ofte bene sene;
As by thre yemen of the north countrey,
  By them it is I meane.

The one of them hight Adam Bell,
  The other Clym of the Clough,        10
The thyrd was Wyllyam of Cloudesley,
  An archer good ynough.

They were outlaw’d for venyson,
  These yemen everych-one;
They swore them brethren upon a day,        15
  To Englyshe-wood for to gone.

Now lith and lysten, gentylmen,
  That of myrthes loveth to here:
Two of them were single men,
  The third had a wedded fere.        20

Wyllyam was the wedded man,
  Muche more then was hys care:
He sayde to hys brethren upon a day,
  To Carleile he would fare;

For to speke with fayre Alyce his wife,
  And with hys chyldren thre.
‘By my trouth,’ sayde Adam Bel,
  ‘Not by the counsell of me:

‘For if ye go to Carleile, brother,
  And from thys wylde wode wende,        30
If that the Justice may you take,
  Your lyfe were at an ende.’—

‘If that I come not to-morowe, brother,
  By pryme to you agayne,
Truste you then that I am taken,        35
  Or else that I am slayne.’

He toke his leave of hys brethren two,
  And to Carleile he is gon:
There he knock’d at his owne windòwe
  Shortlye and anone.        40

‘Wher be you, fayre Alyce,’ he sayd,
  ‘My wife and chyldren three?
Lyghtly let in thyne owne husbànde,
  Wyllyam of Cloudesley.’—

‘Alas!’ then sayde fayre Alyce,
  And syghèd wonderous sore,
‘Thys place hath ben besette for you
  Thys halfè yere and more.’—

‘Now am I here,’ sayde Cloudesley,
  ‘I would that in I were.        50
Now fetche us meate and drynke ynoughe,
  And let us make good chere.’

She fetchèd hym meate and drynke plentye,
  Lyke a true wedded wyfe;
And pleasèd hym with that she had,        55
  Whom she loved as her lyfe.

There lay an old wyfe in that place,
  A lytle besyde the fyre,
Whych Wyllyam had found of charytye
  More than seven yere.        60

Up she rose, and forth shee goes,
  Evel mote shee speede therfore!
For shee had sett no foote on ground
  In seven yere before.

She went unto the Justice Hall,
  As fast as she could hye:
‘Thys night,’ shee sayd, ‘is come to town
  Wyllyam of Cloudeslyè.’

Thereof the Justice was full fayne,
  And so was the Shirife also:        70
‘Thou shalt not trauaile hither, dame, for nought,
  Thy meed thou shalt have or thou go.’

They gave to her a ryght good goune,
  Of scarlate, [and of graine]:
She toke the gyft, and home she wente,        75
  And couchèd her doune agayne.

They raysed the towne of mery Carleile
  In all the haste they can;
And came thronging to Wyllyam’s house,
  As fast as they might gone.        80

There they besette that good yeman
  Round about on every syde:
Wyllyam hearde great noyse of folkes,
  That thither-ward fast hyed.

Alyce opened a backe wyndowe,
  And lokèd all aboute;
She was ware of the Justice and Shirife bothe,
  Wyth a full great route.

‘Alas! treason!’ cryed Alyce,
  ‘Ever wo may thou be!        90
Goe into my chamber, my husband,’ she sayd,
  ‘Swete Wyllyam of Cloudesley.’

He toke hys sword and hys buckler,
  Hys bow and hys chyldren thre,
And wente into hys strongest chamber,        95
  Where he thought surest to be.

Fayre Alyce, like a lover true,
  Took a polaxe in her hande:
Said, ‘He shall dye that cometh in
  Thys dore, whyle I may stand.’        100

Cloudesley bente a wel good bowe,
  That was of a trusty tre,
He smot the Justice on the brest,
  That hys arowe brast in three.

‘God’s curse on his harte,’ saide Wyllyam,
  ‘Thys day thy cote dyd on!
If it had ben no better then myne,
  It had gone nere thy bone.’—

‘Yelde the Cloudesley,’ sayd the Justice,
  ‘And thy bowe and thy arrowes the fro.’—        110
‘God’s curse on hys hart,’ sayd fair Alyce,
  ‘That my husband councelleth so!’—

‘Set fyre on the house,’ saide the Sherife,
  ‘Syth it wyll no better be,
And brenne we therin Wyllyam,’ he saide,        115
  ‘Hys wyfe and chyldren thre.’

They fyred the house in many a place,
  The fyre flew up on hye:
‘Alas!’ then cryèd fayre Alyce,
  ‘I see we here shall dye.’        120

Wyllyam openyd a backe wyndowe,
  That was in hys chamber hie,
And there with sheetes he did let downe
  His wyfe and children three.

‘Have you here my treasure,’ sayde Wyllyam,
  ‘My wyfe and my chyldren thre:
For Christès love do them no harme,
  But wreke you all on me.’

Wyllyam shot so wonderous well,
  Tyll hys arrowes were all agoe,        130
And the fyre so fast upon hym fell,
  That hys bowstryng brent in two.

The sparkles brent and fell upon
  Good Wyllyam of Cloudesley:
Than was he a wofull man, and sayde,        135
  ‘Thys is a cowardes death to me.

‘Leever had I,’ sayde Wyllyam,
  ‘With my sworde in the route to renne,
Then here among myne enemyes wode
  Thus cruelly to bren.’        140

He toke hys sword and hys buckler,
  And among them all he ran,
Where the people were most in prece,
  He smot downe many a man.

There myght no man abyde hys stroakes,
  So fersly on them he ran:
Then they threw windowes and dores on him,
  And so toke that good yemàn.

There they hym bounde both hand and fote,
  And in a deepe dungeon him cast:        150
‘Now Cloudesley,’ sayd the Justice,
  ‘Thou shalt be hangèd in hast.’

‘A payre of new gallowes,’ sayd the Sherife,
  Now shal I for thee make;’
And the gates of Carleile shal be shutte:        155
  No man shal come in therat.

‘Then shall not helpe Clym of the Clough,
  Nor yet shall Adam Bell,
Though they came with a thousand mo,
  Nor all the devels in hell.’        160

Early in the mornynge the Justice uprose,
  To the gates first can he gone,
And commaunded to be shut full close
  Lightilè everych-one.

Then went he to the markett place,
  As fast as he coulde hye;
There a payre of new gallowes he set up
  Besyde the pyllorye.

A lytle boy among them asked,
  What meanèd that gallow-tre?        170
They sayde to hange a good yemàn,
  Called Wyllyam of Cloudeslèy.

That lytle boye was the towne swyne-heard,
  And kept fayre Alyce’s swyne;
Oft he had seene Wyllyam in the wodde,        175
  And geven hym there to dyne.

He went out att a crevis of the wall,
  And lightly to the woode dyd gone;
There met he with these wight yemen
  Shortly and anone.        180

‘Alas!’ then sayde the lytle boye,
  ‘Ye tary here all too longe;
Cloudeslee is taken, and dampned to death,
  And readye for to honge.’

‘Alas!’ then sayd good Adam Bell,
  ‘That ever we saw thys daye!
He had better have tarryed with us,
  So ofte as we dyd him praye.

‘He myght have dwelt in grene foreste,
  Under the shadowes greene,        190
And have kepte both hym and us att reste,
  Out of all trouble and teene.’

Adam bent a ryght good bow,
  A great hart sone hee had slayne:
‘Take that, chylde, to thy dynner,        195
  And bryng me myne arrowe agayne.’

‘Now go we hence,’ sayed these wight yeomen,
  ‘Tarry we no longer here;
We shall hym borowe by God his grace,
  Though we buy itt full dere.’        200

To Carleile wente these bold yemen,
  All in a mornyng of maye.—
Here is a Fyt of Cloudesley,
  And another is for to saye.
GLOSS:  Clym of the Clough] Clement of the Clift.  Englyshe-wood] Inglewood, near Carlisle.  lith] hearken.  fere] mate.  pryme] six in the morning.  found] provided for.  fayne] rejoiced.  wode] wild, savage.  prece] press, crowd.  dampned] condemned.  teene] sorrow.  borowe] ransom, redeem.


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