Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
117. Robin Hood and the Monk

IN somer, when the shawes be sheyne,
  And leves be large and long,
Hit is full mery in feyre foreste
  To here the foulys song:

To se the dere draw to the dale,
  And leve the hillès hee,
And shadow hem in the levës grene,
  Under the grene-wode tre.

Hit befel on Whitsontide,
  Erly in a May mornyng,        10
The Son up feyre can shyne,
  And the briddis mery can syng.

‘This is a mery mornyng,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘Be Hym that dyed on tre;
A more mery man then I am one        15
  Lyves not in Cristiantë.

‘Pluk up thi hert, my dere mayster,’
  Litull John can sey,
‘And thynk hit is a full fayre tyme
  In a mornyng of May.’        20

‘Ye, on thyng greves me,’ seid Robyn,
  ‘And does my hert mych woo;
That I may not no solem day
  To mas nor matyns goo.

‘Hit is a fourtnet and more,’ seid he,
  ‘Syn I my Savyour see;
To day wil I to Notyngham,’ seid Robyn,
  ‘With the myght of mylde Marye.’

Than spake Moche, the mylner son,—
  Ever more wel hym betyde!        30
‘Take twelve of thi wyght yemèn,
  Well weppynd, be thi side.
Such on wolde thi selfe slon,
  That twelve dar not abyde.’

Of all my mery men,’ seid Robyn,
  ‘Be my feith I wil non have,
But Litull John shall beyre my bow,
  Til that me list to drawe.’

‘Thou shall beyre thin own,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘Maister, and I wyl beyre myne,        40
And we well shete a peny,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘Under the grene-wode lyne.’

‘I wil not shete a peny,’ seyd Robyn Hode,
  ‘In feith, Litull John, with the,
But ever for on as thou shetis,’ seide Robyn,        45
  ‘In feith I holde the thre.’

Thus shet thei forth, these yemen two,
  Bothe at buske and brome,
Til Litull John wan of his maister
  Five shillings to hose and shone.        50

A ferly strife fel them betwene,
  As they went bi the wey;
Litull John seid he had won five shillings,
  And Robyn Hode seid schortly nay.

With that Robyn Hode lyed Litull John,
  And smote hym with his hande;
Litull John waxèd wroth therwith,
  And pull’d out his bright bronde.

‘Were thou not my maister,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘Thou shuldis be hit ful sore;        60
Get the a man wher thou wilt,
  For thou getis me no more.’

Then Robyn goes to Notyngham,
  Hym selfe mornyng allone,
And Litull John to mery Scherwode,        65
  The pathes he knew ilkone.

Whan Robyn came to Notyngham,
  Sertenly withouten layn,
He prayed to God and myld Mary
  To bryng hym out save agayn.        70

He gos in to Seynt Mary chirch,
  And kneled down before the rode;
Alle that e’er were the church within
  Beheld wel Robyn Hode.

Beside hym stod a gret-hedid munke,
  I pray to God woo he be!
Fful sone he knew gode Robyn,
  As sone as he hym se.

Out at the durre he ran,
  Fful sone and anon;        80
Alle the yatis of Notyngham
  He made to be sparred euerychon.

‘Rise up,’ he seid, ‘thou prowde Schereff,
  Buske the and make the bowne;
I have spyèd the Kynggis felon,        85
  Fforsothe he is in this town.

‘I have spyèd the false felon,
  As he stondis at his masse;
Hit is long of the,’ seide the munke
  ‘And ever he fro us passe.        90

‘This traytur name is Robyn Hode,
  Under the grene-wode lynde;
He robbyt me onys of a hundred pound,
  Hit shalle never out of my mynde.’

Up then rose this prowde Shereff,
  And radly made hym yare;
Many was the moder son
  To the kyrk with hym can fare.

In at the durres thei throly thrast,
  With stavès ful gode wone;        100
‘Alas, alas!’ seid Robyn Hode,
  ‘Now mysse I Litull John.’

But Robyn toke out a two-hond sworde,
  That hangit down be his kne;
Ther as the Schereff and his men stode thyckust,        105
  Thethurwarde wolde he.

Thryes thorowout them he ran then,
  Forsothe as I yow sey,
And woundyt mony a moder son,
  And twelve he slew that day.        110

His sworde upon the Schereff hed
  Sertanly he brake in two;
‘The smyth that the made,’ seid Robyn,
  ‘I pray to God wyrke hym woo!

‘Ffor now am I weppynlesse,’ seid Robyn,
  ‘Alasse! agayn my wylle;
But if I may fle these traytors fro,
  I wot thei wil me kyll.’

Robyn into the churchë ran,
  Throout hem everilkon …        120
[Then word is gone to his yemen
  In grene-wode wher they wone.]

Sum fel in swonyng as thei were dede,
  And lay stil as any stone;
Non of theym were in her mynde        125
  But only Litull John.

‘Let be your rule,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘Ffor his luf that dyed on tre;
Ye that shulde be dughty men,
  Het is gret shame to se.        130

‘Oure maister has bene hard bystode
  And yet scapyd away;
Pluk up your hertis, and leve this mone,
  And harkyn what I shal say.

‘He has seruyd Oure Lady many a day,
  And yet wil, securly;
Therfor I trust in hir specialy
  No wyckud deth shal he dye.

‘Therfor be glad,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘And let this mournyng be;        140
And I shal be the munkis gyde,
  With the myght of mylde Mary.’

[Than spake Moche, the mylner son,]
  ‘We will go but we two.’—
‘An I mete hym,’ seid Litull John,        145
  [I trust to wyrke hym woo.]

‘Loke that ye kepe wel owre tristil-tre,
  Under the levys smale,
And spare non of this venyson,
  That gose in thys vale.’        150

Fforthe then went these yemen two,
  Litull John and Moche on fere,
And lokid on Moch’ emys hows,—
  The hye-way lay full nere.

Litull John stode at a wyndow in the mornyng,
  And lokid forth at a stage;
He was war wher the munke came ridyng,
  And with hym a litul page.

‘Be my feith,’ seid Litull John to Moch,
  ‘I can the tel tithyngus gode;        160
I se wher the monke cumys rydyng,
  I know hym be his wyde hode.’

They went in to the way, these yemen bothe,
  As curtes men and hende;
Thei spyrred tithyngus at the munke,        165
  As they hade bene his frende.

‘Ffro whens come ye?’ seid Litull John,
  ‘Tel us tithyngus, I yow pray,
Off a false owtlay, callid Robyn Hode,
  Was takyn yisterday.        170

‘He robbyt me and my felowes bothe
  Of twenti marke in serten;
If that false owtlay be takyn,
  Ffor sothe we wolde be fayn.’

‘So did he me,’ seid the munke,
  ‘Of a hundred pound and more;
I layde furst hande hym apon,
  Ye may thonke me therfore.’

‘I pray God thanke you,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘And we wil when we may;        180
We wil go with you, with your leve,
  And bryng yow on your way.

‘Ffor Robyn Hode hase many a wilde felow,
  I tell you in certen;
If thei wist ye rode this way,        185
  In feith ye shulde be slayn.’

As thei went talking be the way,
  The munke and Litull John,
John toke the munkis horse be the hede,
  Fful sone and anon.        190

John toke the munkis horse be the hed,
  Fforsothe as I yow say;
So did Much the litull page,
  Ffor he shulde not scape away.

Be the golett of the hode
  John pulled the munkè down;
John was nothyng of hym agast,
  He lete hym falle on his crown.

Litull John was sore agrevyd,
  And drew owt his swerde in hye;        200
This munkè saw he shulde be ded,
  Lowd mercy can he crye.

‘He was my maister,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘That thou hase browght in bale;
Shalle thou never cum at our Kyng,        205
  Ffor to telle hym tale.’

John smote of the munkis hed,
  No longer wolde he dwell;
So did Moch the litull page,
  Ffor ferd lest he wolde tell.        210

Ther thei beryèd hem bothe,
  In nouther mosse nor lyng,
And Litull John and Much in fere
  Bare the letturs to oure Kyng.

[Whan John came unto oure Kyng]
  He knelid down on his kne:
God yow save, my legè lorde,
  Jhesus yow save and se!

‘God yow save, my legè Kyng!’
  To speke John was full bolde;        220
He gaf hym the letturs in his hond,
  The Kyng did hit unfold.

The Kyng red the letturs anon,
  And seid, So mot I the,
Ther was never yoman in mery Inglond        225
  I longut so sore to se.

‘Wher is the munke that these shuld have brought?’
  Ourè Kyng can say:
‘Be my trouth,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘He dyed after the way.’        230

The Kyng gaf Moch and Litull John
  Twenti pound in sertan,
And made theim yemen of the crown,
  And bade theim go agayn.

He gaf John the seel in hand,
  The Sheref for to bere,
To bryng Robyn hym to,
  And no man do hym dere.

John toke his leve at oure Kyng,
  The sothe as I yow say;        240
The next way to Notyngham
  To take, he yede the way.

Whan John came to Notyngham
  The yatis were sparred ychon;
John callid up the porter,        245
  He answerid sone anon.

‘What is the cause,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘Thou sparris the yates so fast?’—
‘Because of Robyn Hode,’ seid the porter,
  ‘In depe prison is cast.        250

‘John and Moch and Wyll Scathlok,
  Ffor sothe as I yow say,
Thei slew oure men upon our wallis,
  And sawten us every day.’

Litull John spyrred after the Schereff,
  And sone he hym fonde;
He oppyned the Kyngus prive seell,
  And gaf hym in his honde.

Whan the Scheref saw the Kyngus seell,
  He did of his hode anon:        260
‘Wher is the munke that bare the letturs?’
  He seid to Litull John.

‘He is so fayn of hym,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘Fforsothe as I yow say,
He has made hym abot of Westmynster,        265
  A lorde of that abbay.’

The Scheref made John godè chere,
  And gaf hym wyne of the best;
At nyght thei went to her beddè,
  And every man to his rest.        270

When the Scheref was on slepe,
  Dronken of wyne and ale,
Litull John and Moch forsothe
  Toke the way unto the jale.

Litull John callid up the jayler,
  And bade hym rise anon;
He seyd Robyn Hode had brokyn prison,
  And out of hit was gon.

The porter rose anon sertan,
  As sone as he herd John calle;        280
Litull John was redy with a swerd,
  And bare hym to the walle.

‘Now wil I be porter,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘And take the keyes in honde:’
He toke the way to Robyn Hode,        285
  And sone he hym unbonde.

He gaf hym a gode swerd in his hond,
  His hed therwith for to kepe,
And ther as the walle was lowyst
  Anon down can thei lepe.        290

Be that the cok began to crow,
  The day began to spryng,
The Scheref fond the jaylier ded;
  The comyn bell made he ryng.

He made a crye thoroout al the town,
  Wheder he be yoman or knave,
That cowthè bryng hym Robyn Hode,
  His warison he shuld have.

‘Ffor I dar never,’ said the Scheref,
  ‘Cum before oure Kyng;        300
Ffor if I do, I wot serten
  Ffor sothe he wil me heng.’

The Scheref made to seke Notyngham,
  Bothe be strete and stye,
And Robyn was in mery Scherwode,        305
  As light as lef on lynde.

Then bespake gode Litull John,
  To Robyn Hode can he say,
‘I have done the a gode turne for an evyll,
  Quyte the whan thou may.        310

‘I have done the a gode turne,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘Fforsothe as I yow say;
I have brought the under grene-wode lyne;
  Ffare wel, and have gode day.’

‘Nay, be my trouth,’ seid Robyn Hode,
  ‘So shall hit never be;
I make the maister,’ seid Robyn Hode,
  ‘Off alle my men and me.’

‘Nay, be my trouth,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘So shalle hit never be;        320
But lat me be a felow,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘No noder kepe I be.’

Thus John gate Robyn Hode out of prison,
  Sertan withoutyn layn;
Whan his men saw hym hol and sounde,        325
  Fforsothe they were full fayne.

They fillèd in wyne, and made hem glad,
  Under the levys smale,
And yete pastès of venyson,
  That gode was with ale.        330

Than wordè came to oure Kyng
  How Robyn Hode was gon,
And how the Scheref of Notyngham
  Durst never loke hym upon.

Then bespake oure cumly Kyng,
  In an angur hye:
‘Litull John hase begyled the Schereff,
  In faith so hase he me.

‘Litull John has begyled us bothe
  And that full wel I se;        340
Or ellis the Schereff of Notyngham
  Hye hongut shulde he be.

‘I made hem yemen of the crowne,
  And gaf hem fee with my hond;
I gaf hem grith,’ seid oure Kyng,        345
  ‘Thorowout all mery Inglond.

‘I gaf theym grith,’ then seid oure Kyng;
  ‘I say, so mot I the,
Fforsothe soch a yeman as he is on
  In all Inglond ar not thre.        350

‘He is trew to his maister,’ seid our Kyng;
  ‘I sey, be swete Seynt John,
He lovys better Robyn Hode
  Then he dose us ychon.

‘Robyn Hode is ever bond to hym,
  Bothe in strete and stalle;
Speke no more of this mater,’ seid oure Kyng,
  ‘But John has begyled us alle.’

Thus endys the talkyng of the munke
  And Robyn Hode i-wysse;        360
God, that is ever a crowned kyng,
  Bryng us all to his blisse!
GLOSS:  shawes] woods.  sheyne] bright, beautiful.  wyght yemèn] sturdy yeomen.  slon] slay.  shete a peny] shoot for a penny.  lyne] linden.  holde] wager.  buske] bush.  ferly] wondrous, strange.  lyed] gave the lie to.  ilkone] each one.  layn] concealment.  yatis] gates.  sparred] barred.  Buske] get ready.  bowne] bound, ready.  long of] along of, i.e. thy fault.  radly] quickly.  yare] ready.  throly thrast] pressed stubbornly.  gode wone] good number, plenty.  But if] unless.  wone] dwelt.  rule] ‘taking on,’ lamenting.  dughty] doughty.  mone] moan.  gyde] be the guide = take charge of.  tristil-tre] trysting-tree, rendezvous.  smale] small.  on fere] in company.  emys hows] uncle’s house.  at a stage] on an upper floor.  tithyngus] tidings.  hende] civil.  spyrred] spiered, inquired.  golett] gullet, throat.  of hym agast] alarmed about him.  hye] haste.  bale] harm.  ferd] fear.  mot I the] I thrive.  after] behind on.  dere] injury.  next] nighest.  yede] went.  ychon] each one.  sawten] assault.  did of his hode] took off his hat.  her] their.  comyn bell] town bell.  warison] reward.  stye] path, alley.  kepe I be] care I to be.  yete] ate.  grith] charter of peace.


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