Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
121. Robin Hood and Alan a Dale

COME listen to me, you gallants so free,
  All you that love mirth for to hear,
And I will you tell of a bold outlàw,
  That lived in Nottinghamshire.

As Robin Hood in the forest stood,
  All under the green-wood tree,
There was he ware of a brave young man,
  As fine as fine might be.

The youngster was clothed in scarlet red,
  In scarlet fine and gay,        10
And he did frisk it over the plain,
  And chanted a roundelay.

As Robin Hood next morning stood,
  Amongst the leaves so gay,
There did he espy the same young man        15
  Come drooping along the way.

The scarlet he wore the day before,
  It was clean cast away;
And every step he fetcht a sigh,
  ‘Alack and a well a day!’        20

Then steppèd forth brave Little John,
  And Much the miller’s son,
Which made the young man bend his bow,
  When as he saw them come.

‘Stand off, stand off!’ the young man said,
  ‘What is your will with me?’—
‘You must come before our master straight,
  Under yon green-wood tree.’

And when he came bold Robin before,
  Robin askt him courteously,        30
‘O hast thou any money to spare,
  For my merry men and me?’

‘I have no money,’ the young man said,
  ‘But five shillings and a ring;
And that I have kept this seven long years,        35
  To have it at my weddìng.

‘Yesterday I should have married a maid,
  But she is now from me tane,
And chosen to be an old knight’s delight,
  Whereby my poor heart is slain.’        40

‘What is thy name?’ then said Robin Hood,
  ‘Come tell me, without any fail.’—
‘By the faith of my body,’ then said the young man,
  ‘My name it is Alan a Dale.’

‘What wilt thou give me,’ said Robin Hood,
  ‘In ready gold or fee,
To help thee to thy true-love again,
  And deliver her unto thee?’

‘I have no money,’ then quoth the young man,
  No ready gold nor fee,        50
But I will swear upon a book
  Thy true servant for to be.’—

‘But how many miles to thy true-love?
  Come tell me without any guile.’—
‘By the faith of my body,’ then said the young man,        55
  ‘It is but five little mile.’

Then Robin he hasted over the plain,
  He did neither stintvnor lin,
Until he came unto the church
  Where Alan should keep his wedding.        60

‘What dost thou do here?’ the Bishop he said,
  ‘I prithee now tell to me:’
‘I am a bold harper,’ quoth Robin Hood,
  ‘And the best in the north countrey.’

‘O welcome, O welcome!’ the Bishop he said,
  ‘That musick best pleaseth me.’—
‘You shall have no musick,’ quoth Robin Hood,
  ‘Till the bride and the bridegroom I see.’

With that came in a wealthy knight,
  Which was both grave and old,        70
And after him a finikin lass,
  Did shine like glistering gold.

‘This is no fit match,’ quoth bold Robin Hood,
  ‘That you do seem to make here;
For since we are come unto the church,        75
  The bride she shall chuse her own dear.’

Then Robin Hood put his horn to his mouth,
  And blew blasts two or three;
When four and twenty bowmen bold
  Come leaping over the lee.        80

And when they came into the churchyard,
  Marching all on a row,
The first man was Alan a Dale,
  To give bold Robin his bow.

‘This is thy true-love,’ Robin he said,
  ‘Young Alan, as I hear say;
And you shall be married at this same time,
  Before we depart away.’

‘That shall not be,’ the Bishop he said,
  ‘For thy word it shall not stand;        90
They shall be three times askt in the church,
  As the law is of our land.’

Robin Hood pull’d off the Bishop’s coat,
  And put it upon Little John;
‘By the faith of my body,’ then Robin said,        95
  ‘This cloath doth make thee a man.’

When Little John went into the quire,
  The people began for to laugh;
He askt them seven times in the church,
  Least three should not be enough.        100

‘Who gives me this maid?’ then said Little John;
  Quoth Robin, ‘That do I!
And he that doth take her from Alan a Dale
  Full dearly he shall her buy.’

And thus having ended this merry weddìing,
  The bride lookt as fresh as a queen,
And so they return’d to the merry green-wood,
  Amongst the leaves so green.
GLOSS:  lin]stop.


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