Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
Robin Hood and the Monk
IN 1 somer, when the shawes be sheyne, 2
  And leves be large and longe,
Hit is full mery in feyre foreste
  To here the foulys song.
To se the dere draw to the dale,        5
  And leve the hilles hee,
And shadow hem in the levës grene,
  Undur the grene-wode tre.
Hit befel on Whitsontide,
  Erly in a May mornyng,        10
The son up fayre 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 than I am one        15
  Lyves not in Cristiandë.’
‘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 thynge greves me,’ seid Robyn,
  ‘And does my hert mych woo,
That I may nor no solem day
  Yo mas nor matyns goo.
‘Hit is a fourtnet and more,’ seid hee,        25
  ‘Syn I my Sauyour see;
Today wil I to Notyngham,’ seid Robyn,
  ‘With the myght of mylde Mary.’
Then spake Moche, the mylner sun,
  Euer more wel hym betyde!        30
‘Take twelve of thi wyght yemen
  Well weppynd, be thei side,
Such on wolde thi selfe slon
  That twelve dar not abyde.’
‘Of all my mery men,’ seid Robyn,        35
  ‘Be my feith I wil none haue;
But Litull John shall beyre my bow
  Til that me list to drawe.’
‘Thou shalle beyre thin own,’ seid Litull Jon,
  ‘Maister, and I wil beyre myne,        40
And we will shete a peny,’ seid Litull Jon,
  ‘Under the grene-wode lyne.’
‘I wil not shete a peny,’ seyd Robyn Hode,
  ‘In feith, Litull John, with the,
But euer for on as thou shetis,’ seid Robyn,        45
  ‘In feith I holde the thre.’
Thus shet thei forth, these yemen too,
  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 way;
Litull John seid he had won five shillings,
  And Robyn Hode seid schortly nay.
With that Robyn Hode lyed Litul Jon,        55
  And smote him with his honde;
Litul Jon waxed wroth therwith,
  And pulled out his bright bronde.
‘Were thou not my maister,’ said Litull John,
  ‘Thou shuldis by hit ful sore;        60
Get the a man where thou wilt,
  For thou getes 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 goes into sent Mary chirch,
  And knele down before the rode;
Alle that ever were the church within
  Beheld wel Robyn Hode.
Beside hym stod a gret-hedid munke,        75
  I pray to God woo he be;
Full sone he knew gode Robyn
  As sone as he hym se.
Out at the durre he ran
  Ful sone and anon;        80
Alle the yatis of Notyngham
  He made to be sparred everychon.
‘Rise up,’ he seid, ‘thou prowde schereff,
  Buske the and make the bowne;
I have spyed the kynggis felon,        85
  For sothe he is in this town.
‘I have spyed the false felon,
  As he stondis at his masse;
Hit is longe 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 nevre out of my mynde.’
Up then rose this proud schereff,        95
  And rade towarde hym yare;
Many was the modur son
  To the kyrk with him can fare.
In at the durres thei throly thrast
  With staves ful gode wone,        100
‘Alas, alas,’ seid Robyn Hode,
  ‘Now mysse I Litull John.’
But Robyn toke out a too-hond sworde
  That hangit down be his kne;
Ther as the schereff and his men stode thyckust,        105
  Thedurwarde wold he.
Thryes thorowout at them he ran then,
  For sothe as I yow say,
And woundyt many a modur son,
  And twelve he slew that day.        110
Hys sworde upon the schireff hed
  Sertanly he brake in too;
‘The smyth that the made,’ seid Robyn,
  ‘I pray God wyrke him woo.
‘For now am I weppynlesse,’ seid Robyn,        115
  ‘Alasse, agayn my wylle;
But if I may fle these traytors fro,
  I wot thei wil me kyll.’
Robyn to the churchë in ran
  Throout hem everilkon;
*        *        *        *        *
Sum fel in swonyng as thei were dede,
  And lay still as any stone.
Non of theym were in her mynde
  But only Litull Jon.
‘Let be your rule,’ said Litull Jon,        125
  ‘For his luf that dyed on tre;
Ye that shulde be dughty men,
  Hit is gret shame to se.
‘Oure maister has bene hard bystode,
  And yet scapyd away;        130
Pluk up your hertis, and leve this mone,
  And harkyn what I shal say.
‘He has servyd our lady many a day,
  And yet wil, securly;
Therefor I trust in hir specialy        135
  No wyckud deth shal he dye.
‘Therfor be glad,’ seid Litul John,
  And let this mournyng be,
And I shal be the munkis gyde,
  With the myght of mylde Mary.
*        *        *        *        *
  ‘We will go but we too;
‘And I mete hym,’ seid Litul John,
‘Loke that ye kepe wel oure tristil-tre
  Under the levys smale,
And spare non of this venyson        145
  That gose in thys vale.’
Forthe then went these yemen too,
  Litul John and Moche on fere,
And lokid on Moch emys hows
  The hye way lay full nere.        150
Litul John stode at a window 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,’ said Litul John to Moch,        155
  ‘I can the tel tithyngus gode;
I se wher the munk comys rydyng,
  I know hym be his wyde hode.’
They went into the way these yemen bothe
  As curtes men and hende,        160
Thei spyrred tithyngus at the munke,
  As thei hade bene his frende.
‘Fro whens come ye,’ seid Litul Jon,
  ‘Tel us tithyngus, I yow pray,
Off a false owtlay, callid Robyn Hode,        165
  Was takyn yisterday.
‘He robbyt me and my felowes bothe
  Of twenti marke in serten;
If that false owtlay be takyn,
  For sothe we wolde be fayn.’        170
‘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 yow,’ seid Litull John,        175
  ‘And we wil when we may;
We wil go with you, with your leve,
  And bryng you on your way.
‘For Robyn Hode hase many a wilde felow
  I tell you in certen;        180
If thei wist ye rode this way,
  In feith ye shulde be slayn.’
As thei went talkyng be the way,
  The munke and Litull John,
John toke the munkis horse be the hede        185
  Ful sone and anon.
Johne toke the munkis horse be the hed,
  For sothe as I yow say,
So did Muche the litull page,
  For he shulde not scape away.        190
Be the golett of the hode
  John pulled the munke down;
John was nothyng of hym agast,
  He lete hym falle on his crown.
Litull John was sore agrevyd,        195
  And drew owt his swerde in hye;
The munke saw he shulde be ded,
  Lowd mercy can he crye.
‘He was my maister,’ said Litull John,
  ‘That thou hase browght in bale;        200
Shalle thou never cum at our kyng,
  For to telle hym tale.’
John smote of the munkis hed,
  No longer wolde he dwell;
So did Moch the litull page,        205
  For ferd lest he wold tell.
Ther thei beryd hem bothe,
  In nouther mosse nor lyng,
And Litull John and Much infere
  Bare the letturs to oure kyng.        210
*        *        *        *        *
He knelid down upon his kne,
  ‘God yow save, my lege lorde,
Jhesus yow save and se.
‘God yow save, my lege kyng!’
  To speke John was full bolde;        215
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        220
  I longut so sore to see.
‘Wher is the munke that these shuld have broght?’
  Oure kynge can say;
‘Be my trouth,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘He dyed after the way.’ 3        225
The kyng gaf Moch and Litul Jon
  Twenti pound in sertan,
And made theim yemen of the crown,
  And bade theim go agayn.
He gaf John the seel in hand,        230
  The scheref 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;        235
The next way to Notyngham
  To take, he yede the way.
Whan John came to Notyngham
  The gatis were sparred ychon;
John callid up the porter,        240
  He answerid sone anon.
‘What is the cause,’ seid Litul Jon,
  ‘Thou sparris the gates so fast?’
‘Because of Robyn Hode,’ seid the porter,
  ‘In depe prison is cast.        245
‘John, and Moch, and Wyll Scathlok,
  For sothe as I yow say,
Thei slew oure men upon our wallis,
  And sawten us every day.’
Litull John spyrred after the schereff,        250
  And sone he hym fonde;
He oppyned the kyngus privé seell,
  And gaf hym in his honde.
When the schereff saw the kyngus seell,
  He did of his hode anon;        255
‘Wher is the munke that bare the letturs?’
  He seid to Litull John.
‘He is so fayn of hym,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘For sothe as I yow say,
He has made hym abot of Westmynster,        260
  A lorde of that abbay.’
The scheref made John gode chere,
  And gaf hym wyne of the best;
At nyght thei went to her bedde,
  And every man to his rest.        265
When the scheref was on slepe
  Dronken of wyne and ale,
Litul John and Moch for sothe
  Toke the way unto the jale.
Litul John callid up the jayler,        270
  And bade him rise anon;
He seid Robyn Hode had brokyn prison,
  And out of hit was gon.
The porter rose anon sertan,
  As sone as he herd John calle;        275
Litul John was redy with a swerd,
  And bare hym to the walle.
‘Now will I be porter,’ seid Litul John,
  ‘And take the keyes in honde;’
He toke the way to Robyn Hode,        280
  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.        285
Be that the cok began to crow,
  The day began to spryng,
The scheref fond the jaylier ded,
  The comyn bell made he rynge.
He made a crye thoroout al the town,        290
  Wheder he be yoman or knave,
That cowthe bryng hym Robyn Hode,
  His warison he shuld have.
‘For I dar never,’ said the scheref,
  ‘Cum before oure kyng;        295
For if I do, I wot serten,
  For sothe he wil me heng.’
The scheref made to seke Notyngham,
  Bothe be strete and stye,
And Robyn was in mery Scherwode        300
  As light as lef on lynde.
Then bespake gode Litull John,
  To Robyn Hode can he say,
‘I have done the a gode turn for an evyll,
  Quyte the whan thou may.        305
‘I have done the a gode turn,’ said Litull John,
  ‘For sothe as I yow say;
I have brought the under the grene-wode lyne;
  Fare wel, and have gode day.’
‘Nay, be my trouth,’ seid Robyn Hode,        310
  ‘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,
  ‘No shalle hit never be,        315
‘But lat me be a felow,’ seid Litull John,
  ‘No noder kepe I be.’ 4
Thus John gate Robyn Hod out of prison,
  Sertan withoutyn layn;
Whan his men saw hym hol and sounde,        320
  For sothe they were ful fayne.
They filled in wyne, and made him glad,
  Under the levys smale,
And gete pastes of venyson,
  That gode was with ale.        325
Than worde 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,        330
  In an angur hye,
‘Litul John hase begyled the schereff,
  In faith so hase he me.
‘Litull John has begyled us bothe,
  And that full wel I se,        335
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,        340
  ‘Thorowout all mery Inglond.
‘I gaf theym grith,’ then seid oure kyng,
  ‘I say, so mot I the,
For sothe soch a yeman as he is on
  In all Ingland ar not thre.        345
‘He is trew to his maister,’ seid oure kyng,
  ‘I say, be swete seynt John;
He lovys better Robyn Hode,
  Then he dose us ychon.
‘Robyn Hode is ever bond to hym,        350
  Bothe in strete and stalle;
Speke no more of this matter,’ seid oure kyng,
  ‘But John has begyled us alle.’
Thus endys the talkyng of the munke
  And Robyn Hode i-wysse;        355
God, that is ever a crowned kyng,
  Bryng us all to his blisse!
Note 1. From a MS. of about 1450. [back]
Note 2. Shawes be sheyne: woods be beautiful. [back]
Note 3. After the way: i.e., upon the way. [back]
Note 4. No noder kepe I be: no noder, none other—thus, I care to be no other. [back]

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