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 Second

And when they came to mery Carleile,
  In a fayre mornyng tyde,
They founde the gates shut them untyll
  About on every syde.

‘Alas!’ then sayd good Adam Bell,
  ‘That ever we were made men!
These gates be shut so wonderly well,
  We may not come therein.’

Then bespake him Clym of the Clough,
  ‘With a wyle we wyl us in bryng;        10
Let us say we be messengers,
  Streyght comen from our King.’

Adam said, ‘I have a letter written,
  Now let us wysely werke,
We wyl saye we have the Kyngè’s seale;        15
  I holde the porter no clerke.’

Then Adam Bell bete on the gates
  With strokès great and stronge:
The porter herde such a noyse therat.
  And to the gates he thronge.        20

‘Who is there now,’ sayd the porter,
  ‘That maketh all thys knockinge?’—
‘We be two messengers,’ quoth Clym of the Clough,
  ‘Be come ryght from our Kynge.’—

‘We have a letter,’ sayd Adam Bell,
  ‘To the Justice we must it brynge;
Let us in our message to do,
  That we were agayne to the Kynge.’—

‘Here commeth none in,’ sayd the porter,
  ‘By hym that dyed on a tre,        30
Tyll a false thefe be hangèd,
  Called Wyllyam of Cloudesley.’

Then spake the good yeman, Clym of the Clough,
  And swore by Mary fre,
‘And if that we stande long wythout,        35
  Lyke a thefe hangèd shalt thou be.

‘Lo! here we have got the Kynge’s seale:
  What, lordane, art thou wode?’
The porter wende it had ben so,
  And lyghtly dyd off hys hode.        40

‘Welcome is my lordes seale,’ he saide;
  ‘For that ye shall come in.’
He opened the gate right shortlye:
  An evyl openyng for him!

‘Now are we in,’ sayde Adam Bell,
  ‘Wherof we are full faine;
But Christ he knowes, that harowed hell,
  How we shall come out agayne.’

‘Had we the keys,’ said Clym of the Clough,
  ‘Ryght wel then shoulde we spede,        50
Then might we come out wel ynough
  When we se tyme and nede.’

They callèd the porter to counsell,
  And wrang his necke in two,
And caste hym in a depe dungeon,        55
  And toke hys keys hym fro.

‘Now am I porter,’ sayd Adam Bell,
  Se, brother, the keys are here!
The worst porter to merry Carleile
  That ye had thys hundred yere.        60

‘And now wyll we our bowès bend,
  Into the towne wyll we go,
For to delyver our dere brothèr,
  That lyeth in care and wo.’

Then they bent theyr good yew bowes,
  And lokèd theyr stringes were round,
The market-place of mery Carleile
  They beset in that stound.

And, as they lokèd them besyde,
  A paire of new galowes they see,        70
And the Justice with a quest of swerers,
  That judged Cloudesley hangèd to be.

And Cloudesley lay redy in a cart,
  Fast bound both fote and hand;
And a stronge rope about hys necke,        75
  All readye for to be hang’d.

The Justice called to him a ladde,
  Cloudesley’s clothes shold hee have,
To take the measure of that yeman,
  Thereafter to make hys grave.        80

‘I have sene as great mervaile,’ said Cloudesley,
  ‘As betweyne thys and pryme,
He that maketh a grave for mee,
  Hymselfe may lye therin.’

‘Thou speakest proudlye,’ said the Justice,
  ‘I will thee hange with my hande.’
Full wel herd this his brethren two,
  There styll as they dyd stande.

Then Cloudesley cast his eyen asyde
  And saw hys brethren stande        90
At a corner of the market place,
  With theyr good bowes bent in theyr hand.

‘I se comfort,’ sayd Cloudesley;
  ‘Yet hope I well to fare;
If I might have my handes at wyll,        95
  Ryght lytell wolde I care.’

Then bespake good Adam Bell
  To Clym of the Clough so fre,
‘Brother, se you marke the Justyce wel;
  Lo! yonder you may him se:        100

‘And at the Sheryfe shote I wyll
  Strongly wyth an arrowe kene.’—
A better shote in mery Carleile
  Thys seven yere was not sene.

They loosed their arrowes both at once,
  Of no man had they drede;
The one hyt the Justice, the other the Sheryfe,
  That both theyr sides gan blede.

All men voyded, that them stode nye,
  When the Justice fell to the grounde,        110
And the Sheryfe fell nye hym by;
  Eyther had his deathes wounde.

All the citezeyns fast gan flye,
  They durst no longer abyde:
There lyghtly they losèd Cloudesley,        115
  Where he with ropes lay tyde.

Wyllyam start to an officer of the towne,
  Hys axe out hys hand he wronge,
On echè syde he smote them downe,
  Hym thought he taryed to long.        120

Wyllyam sayde to hys brethren two,
  ‘Thys daye let us lyve and die,
If e’er you have nede, as I have now,
  The same you shall finde by me.’

They shot so well in that tyde
  (Theyr stringes were of silke ful sure)
That they kept the stretes on every side;
  That batayle did long endure.

They fought together as brethren true,
  Lyke hardy men and bolde,        130
Many a man to the ground they threw,
  And many a herte made colde.

But when their arrowes were all gon,
  Men presyd to them full fast,
They drew theyr swordès then anone,        135
  And theyr bowès from them cast.

They went lyghtlye on theyr way,
  Wyth swordes and bucklers round;
By that it was mydd of the day,
  They had made many a wound.        140

There was many an out-horne in Carleile blowen,
  And the belles backwarde dyd ryng;
Many a woman sayde, Alas!
  And many theyr handes dyd wryng.

The Mayre of Carleile forth com was,
  Wyth hym a ful great route:
These thre yemen dred hym full sore,
  For theyr lyvès stode in doute.

The Mayre came armèd a full great pace,
  With a polaxe in hys hande;        150
Many a strong man wyth him was,
  There in that stowre to stande.

The Mayre smot at Cloudesley with his byll,
  Hys buckler he brast in two,
Full many a yeman with great yll,        155
  ‘Alas! Treason! ’they cryed for wo.
‘Kepe well the gatès fast we wyll,
  That these traytours therout not go.’

But al for nought was that they wrought,
  For so fast they downe were layde,        160
Tyll they all thre, that so manfully fought
  Were gotten without, at a braide.

‘Have here your keys,’ sayd Adam Bell,
  ‘Myne office I here forsake;
And yf you do by my counsell        165
  A new porter do ye make.’

He threw theyr keys there at theyr hedes,
  And bad them well to thryve,
And all that letteth any good yeman
  To come and comfort his wyfe.        170

Thus be these good yeman gon to the wode
  As lyghtly as lefe on lynde;
They laughe and be mery in theyr mode,
  Theyr enemyes were farre behynd.

When they came to Inglyswode,
  Under theyr trysty tre,
There they found bowès full good,
  And arrowès great plentye.

‘So God me help,’ sayd Adam Bell,
  And Clym of the Clough so fre,        180
‘I would we were in mery Carleile,
  Before that fayre meynye.’

They set them downe, and made good chere,
  And eate and dranke full well.—
A second Fyt of the wightye yeomen:        185
  Another I wyll you tell.
GLOSS:  thronge] hastened.  lordane] dolt.  wode] mad.  wende] weened, thought.  round] i.e. not frayed.  stound] time.  swerers] swearers, jurymen.  voyded] gave room, ran off.  out-horne] a horn blown to call citizens to help the law.  stowre] press of fight.  braide] sudden spring.  letteth] hindereth.  lynde] linden.  meynye] company.


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