Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne
WHEN shawes beene sheene, and shradds full fayre
  And leeves both large and longe,
Itt is merry, walking in the fayre forrest,
  To heare the small birds songe.
The woodweele 1 sang, and wold not cease,        5
  Amongst the leaves a lyne:
And it is by two wight yeomen,
  By deare God, that I meane.
‘Me thought they did mee beate and binde,
  And tooke my bow mee froe;        10
If I bee Robin a-live in this lande,
  I’le be wrocken on both them towe.’
‘Sweavens are swift, master,’ quoth John,
  ‘As the wind that blowes ore a hill;
For if itt be never soe lowde this night,        15
  To-morrow it may be still.’
‘Buske yee, bowne yee, my merry men all,
  For John shall goe with mee;
For I’le goe seeke yond wight yeomen
  In greenwood where the bee.’        20
The cast on their gowne of greene,
  A shooting gone are they,
Untill they came to the merry greenwood,
  Where they had gladdest bee;
There were the ware of a wight yeoman,        25
  His body leaned to a tree.
A sword and a dagger he wore by his side,
  Had beene many a mans bane,
And he was cladd in his capull-hyde,
  Topp, and tayle, and mayne.        30
‘Stand you still, master,’ quoth Litle John,
  ‘Under this trusty tree,
And I will goe to yond wight yeoman,
  To know his meaning trulye.’
‘A, John, by me thou setts noe store,        35
  And that’s a farley thinge;
How offt send I my men before,
  And tarry my-selfe behinde?
‘It is noe cunning a knave to ken,
  And a man but heare him speake;        40
And itt were not for bursting of my bowe,
  John, I wold thy head breake.’
But often words they breeden bale,
  That parted Robin and John;
John is gone to Barnesdale,        45
  The gates he knowes eche one.
But when hee came to Barnesdale,
  Great heavinesse there hee hadd;
He found two of his fellowes
  Were slaine both in a slade,        50
And Scarlett a foote flyinge was,
  Over stockes and stone,
For the sheriffe with seven score men
  Fast after him is gone.
‘Yett one shoote I ’le shoote,’ sayes Litle John,        55
  ‘With Crist his might and mayne;
I ’le make yond felow that flyes soe fast
  To be both glad and faine.’
John bent up a good veiwe bow,
  And fetteled him to shoote;        60
The bow was made of a tender boughe,
  And fell downe to his foote.
‘Woe worth thee, wicked wood,’ sayd Litle John,
  ‘That ere thou grew on a tree!
For this day thou art my bale,        65
  My boote when thou shold bee!’
This shoote it was but looselye shott,
  The arrowe flew in vaine,
And it mett one of the sheriffes men;
  Good William a Trent was slaine.        70
It had beene better for William a Trent
  To hange upon a gallowe
Then for to lye in the greenwoode,
  There slaine with an arrowe.
‘And it is sayd, when men be mett,        75
  Six can do more then three:
And they have tane Litle John,
  And bound him fast to a tree.
‘Thou shalt be drawen by dale and downe,’ quoth the sheriffe,
  ‘And hanged hye on a hill:’        80
‘But thou may fayle,’ quoth Litle John,
  ‘If itt be Christ’s owne will.’
Let us leave talking of Litle John,
  For hee is bound fast to a tree,
And talke of Guy and Robin Hoode,        85
  In the green woode where they bee.
How these two yeomen together they mett,
  Under the leaves of lyne,
To see what marchandise they made
  Even at that same time.        90
‘Good morrow, good fellow,’ quoth Sir Guy;
  ‘Good morrow, good fellow,’ quoth hee;
‘Methinks by this bow thou beares in thy hand,
  A good archer thou seems to bee.’
‘I am wilfull of my way,’ quoth Sir Guye,        95
  ‘And of my morning tyde:’
‘I ’le lead thee through the wood,’ quoth Robin,
  ‘Good fellow, I ’le be thy guide.’
‘I seeke an outlaw,’ quoth Sir Guye,
  ‘Men call him Robin Hood;        100
I had rather meet with him upon a day
  Then forty pound of golde.’
‘If you tow mett, itt wold be seene whether were better
  Afore yee did part awaye;
Let us some other pastime find,        105
  Good fellow, I thee pray.
‘Let us some other masteryes make,
  And wee will walke in the woods even;
Wee may chance meet with Robin Hoode
  Att some unsett steven.’ 2        110
They cutt them downe the summer shroggs
  Which grew both under a bryar,
And sett them three score rood in twinn, 3
  To shoote the prickes 4 full neare.
‘Leade on, good fellow,’ sayd Sir Guye,        115
  ‘Lead on, I doe bidd thee:’
‘Nay, by my faith,’ quoth Robin Hood,
  ‘The leader thou shalt bee.’
The first good shoot that Robin ledd
  Did not shoote an inch the pricke froe;        120
Guy was an archer good enoughe,
  But he cold neere shoote soe.
The second shoote Sir Guy shott,
  He shott within the garlande; 5
But Robin Hoode shott it better then hee,        125
  For he clove the good pricke-wande.
‘Gods blessing on thy heart!’ sayes Guye,
  ‘Goode fellow, thy shooting is goode;
For an thy hart be as good as thy hands,
  Thou were better then Robin Hood.        130
‘Tell me thy name, good fellow,’ quoth Guy,
  ‘Under the leaves of lyne:’
‘Nay, by my faith,’ quoth good Robin,
  ‘Till thou have told me thine.’
‘I dwell by dale and downe,’ quoth Guye,        135
  ‘And I have done many a curst turne;
And he that calles me by my right name
  Calles me Guye of good Gysborne.’
‘My dwelling is in the wood,’ sayes Robin;
  ‘By thee I set right nought;        140
My name is Robin Hood of Barnesdale,
  A fellow thou has long sought.’
He that had neither beene a kithe nor kin
  Might have seene a full fayre sight,
To see how together these yeomen went,        145
  With blades both browne and bright.
To have seene how these yeomen together fought,
  Two howers of a summers day;
Itt was neither Guy nor Robin Hood
  That fettled them to flye away.        150
Robin was reacheles on a roote,
  And stumbled at that tyde,
And Guy was quicke and nimble withall,
  And hitt him ore the left side.
‘Ah, deere Lady!’ sayd Robin Hoode,        155
  ‘Thou art both mother and may!
I thinke it was never mans destinye
  To dye before his day.’
Robin thought on Our Lady deere,
  And soone leapt up againe,        160
And thus he came with an awkwarde stroke;
  Good Sir Guy hee has slayne.
He tooke Sir Guys head by the hayre,
  And sticked itt on his bowes end:
‘Thou hast beene traytor all thy liffe,        165
  Which thing must have an ende.’
Robin pulled forth an Irish kniffe,
  And nicked Sir Guy in the face,
That hee was never on a woman borne
  Cold tell who Sir Guye was.        170
Saies, ‘Lye there, lye there, good Sir Guye,
  And with me be not wrothe;
If thou have had the worse stroakes at my hand,
  Thou shalt have the better cloathe.
Robin did off his gowne of greene,        175
  Sir Guye hee did it throwe;
And hee put on that capull-hyde,
  That cladd him topp to toe.
‘The bowe, the arrowes, and litle horne,
  And with me now I ’le beare;        180
For now I will goe to Barnesdale,
  To see how my men doe fare.’
Robin sett Guyes horne to his mouth,
  A lowd blast in it he did blow;
That beheard the sheriffe of Nottingham,        185
  As he leaned under a lowe.
‘Hearken! hearken!’ sayd the sheriffe,
  ‘I heard noe tydings but good;
For yonder I heare Sir Guyes home blowe,
  For he hath slaine Robin Hoode.        190
‘For yonder I heare Sir Guyes home blow,
  Itt blowes soe well in tyde,
For yonder comes that wighty yeoman,
  Cladd in his capull-hyde.
‘Come hither, thou good Sir Guy,        195
  Aske of mee what thou wilt have;’
‘I ’le none of thy gold,’ sayes Robin Hood,
  ‘Nor I ’le none of itt have.
‘But now I have slaine the master,’ he sayd,
  ‘Let me goe strike the knave;        200
This is all the reward I aske,
  Nor noe other will I have.’
‘Thou art a madman,’ said the shiriffe,
  ‘Thou sholdest have had a knights fee;
Seeing thy asking hath beene soe badd,        205
  Well granted it shall be.’
But Litle John heard his master speake,
  Well he knew that was his steven;
‘Now shall I be loset,’ quoth Litle John,
  With Christs might in heavens.’        210
But Robin hee hyed him towards Litle John,
  Hee thought hee wold loose him belive;
The sheriffe and all his companye
  Fast after him did drive.
‘Stand abacke! stand abacke!’ sayd Robin;        215
  ‘Why draw you mee soe neere?
Itt was never the use in our countrye
  One’s shrift another shold heere.’
But Robin pulled forth an Irysh kniffe,
  And losed John hand and foote,        220
And gave him Sir Guyes bow in his hand,
  And bade it be his boote.
But John tooke Guyes bow in his hand—
  His arrowes were rawstye by the roote—
The sherriffe saw Little John draw a bow        225
  And fettle him to shoote.
Towards his house in Nottingham
  He fled full fast away,
And soe did all his companye,
  Not one behind did stay.        230
But he cold neither soe fast goe,
  Nor away soe fast runn,
But Litle John, with an arrow broade,
  Did cleave his heart in twinn.
Note 1. Woodweele: generally explained as woodpecker; sometimes as thrush, or redbreast. (Kittredge). [back]
Note 2. At some unsett steven: i.e., at an unexpected or unappointed time. [back]
Note 3. In twinn: apart. [back]
Note 4. Prickes: the long-range target contrasted to butts, the near. (Furnivall). [back]
Note 5. The garlande: the ring within which the prick was set; and the prick seems to have been now a wand, now a white mark, “bull’s eye, or peg in the middle of a target,” with prickewande as pole or stick. A “rover was any accidental mark,—tree or the like.” (Gummere). [back]

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