Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VII. Descriptive: Narrative
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VII. Descriptive: Narrative.  1904.
Narrative Poems: VIII. England
Robin Hood and Allan-a-Dale
COME, listen to me, you gallants so free,
  All you that love mirth for to hear,
And I will tell you of a bold outlaw,
  That lived in Nottinghamshire.
As Robin Hood in the forest stood,        5
  All under the greenwood tree,
There he was aware of a brave young man,
  As fine as fine might be.
The youngster was clad 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 at every step he fetched a sigh,
  “Alack and well-a-day!”        20
Then stepped forth brave Little John,
  And Midge, the miller’s son;
Which made the young man bend his bow,
  Whenas he see them come.
“Stand off! stand off!” the young man said,        25
  “What is your will with me?”
“You must come before our master straight,
  Under yon greenwood tree.”
And when he came bold Robin before,
  Robin asked 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 these seven long years,        35
  To have at my wedding.
“Yesterday I should have married a maid,
  But she was from me ta’en,
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 Allan-a-Dale.”
“What wilt thou give me,” said Robin Hood,        45
  “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 or fee,        50
But I will swear upon a book
  Thy true servant for to be.”
“How many miles is it to thy true-love?
  Come tell me without 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 stint nor lin, 1
Until he came unto the church
  Where Allan should keep his wedding.        60
“What hast thou here?” the bishop then said,
  “I prithee now tell unto me.”
“I am a bold harper,” quoth Robin Hood,
  “And the best in the north country.”
“O, welcome, O, welcome,” the bishop he said,        65
  “That music best pleaseth me.”
“You shall have no music,” quoth Robin Hood,
  “Till the bride and 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 the glistering gold.
“This is not a fit match,” quoth Robin Hood,
  “That you do seem to make here;
For since we are come into the church,        75
  The bride shall chuse her own dear.”
Then Robin Hood put his horn to his mouth,
  And blew blasts two and three;
When four-and twenty yeomen bold
  Came leaping over the lea.        80
And when they came into the churchyard,
  Marching all in a row,
The very first man was Allan-a-Dale,
  To give bold Robin his bow.
“This is thy true-love,” Robin he said,        85
  “Young Allan, as I hear say;
And you shall be married at this same time,
  Before we depart away.”
“That shall not be,” the bishop he cried,
  “For thy word shall not stand;        90
They shall be three times asked in the church,
  As the law is of our land.”
Robin Hood pulled off the bishop’s coat,
  And put it upon Little John;
“By the faith of my body,” then Robin said,        95
  “This cloth doth make thee a man.”
When Little John went into the quire,
  The people began to laugh;
He asked them seven times in the church
  Lest three times should not be enough.        100
“Who gives me this maid?” said Little John,
  Quoth Robin Hood, “That do I;
And he that takes her from Allan-a-Dale,
  Full dearly he shall her buy.”
And then, having ended this merry wedding,        105
  The bride looked like a queen;
And so they returned to the merry greenwood,
  Amongst the leaves so green.
Note 1. Stop nor stay. [back]

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